To ensure the continuity of the country's contact tracing efforts, the Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) will re-hire some 15,000 contact tracers (CTs) nationwide for at least six months, following the approval by the Department of Budget and Management of a total of P1.9-billion for the hiring of CTs in 2021.
"While the country's COVID-19 response is significantly improving, we should sustain our contact tracing efforts especially with the reported entry of the new UK variant into the country. Hence, we are pleased that we have been given the funds to re-hire some 15,000 CTs this year who will continue to help us track down, monitor coronavirus cases, and cut transmission in the community," said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said that while the Department would have wanted to rehire all the 50,000 CTs it engaged last year, budget limitations hinder it from hiring the same number of CTs this year.
"Much as we would like to continue the services of all the 50,000 CTs hired in 2020, we need to have a more rational number of CTs and work within the available budget allotted to the Department. Hence, only 15,000 CTs will be re-hired under a six-month contract in the meantime while we wait for the release of additional funds," he said.
The DILG will utilize P1.4-billion that constitutes the unreleased balance from RA 11519 or the extension of the validity of appropriations under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. This will supplement the P500-million that has been allocated for the hiring of CTs in the 2021 General Appropriations Act.
“Therefore, DILG field offices and the LGUs are directed to conduct an immediate assessment of the performance of the contact tracers and proceed with the selection of those who have effectively and efficiently performed their assigned tasks,” said Malaya.
In a memorandum signed by DILG Officer-in-Charge Bernardo Florece, Jr., DILG regional directors were asked to advise all DILG-hired contact tracers in their respective regions to wind up their activities, process their clearances and return their identification cards to their respective local government unit (LGU) of deployment following the termination of contracts last December 31, 2020.
Florece also asked the Regional Offices to prioritize the re-hiring of contact tracers in the LGUs who have active cases and have rising active cases.
More CTs to be rehired in NCR, Regions III, VII
Malaya said that the National Capital Region (2,381), Region III (1,504) and Region VII (1,417) top the list of regions which will rehire the most number of CTs this year based on the prorated quota for 2021 hiring of contact tracers. The quota is based on the number of active cases in a particular region.
He said this is based on the 30% across the board distribution to arrive at the 15,000 target of hiring of contact tracers this year.
He added that the Department also plans to rehire 1,264 CTs in CALABARZON; 1,052 in Region IX; 974 in Region VI; 813 in Region XI; 856 in Region V; 634 in Region X, 510 CTs in BARMM; and 501 CTs in Region 1.
Another 451 CTs will be hired in MIMAROPA;433 in Region VIII; 352 in Region II; and 267 Cordillera Administrative Region.
Malaya, however, said that the rehiring of the 15,000 CTs will only be effective only upon the availability of funds or receipt of the SARO/NCA for the purpose from the DBM.