SAN PEDRO CITY, LAGUNA (14 AUGUST 2020)— The business community and local government units should work hand-in-hand to ensure the safety of workers and the general public, as the country transitions to the ‘new normal.’

This was the major consensus during the visit of the COVID-19 CODE (Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic) Team to the cities of San Pedro and Biñan on Friday, after the surge in positive COVID-19 cases during the general community quarantine (GCQ) in June was attributed to the movement of people returning to their workplaces.

National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. noted that having an open line of communication with their respective local government units will enable business establishments to further improve their COVID-19 response mechanisms, and at the same time, come up with more accurate and timely granular data.

“Halimbawa po kapag nagtetest kayo ng mga employees, dapat po alam ng LGU para hindi magugulat si mayor o si governor na biglang marami na palang cases, kasi hindi narereport sa City Health Office,” Galvez said.

Responding to queries from the management of companies in San Pedro who raised concerns about the establishment of isolation facilities in their plants and offices, Galvez outlined the necessary protocols on how this should be done.

“Sa building requirement, dapat talaga may designated na isolation facilities. Halimbawa kung tatlong floors kayo at may nag-positive sa first floor, ‘yung first floor lang ila-lockdown n’yo tapos iba ‘yung dadaanan papunta sa ibang floors. Dapat ireconfigure ang mga places of work natin,” Galvez said.

“Yung mga facility na hindi n’yo ginagamit, pwedeng doon ang isolation. Halimbawa sa isang planta, better kung nasa labas ‘yung isolation para hindi affected ‘yung work area ninyo,” he added.


Best practices

Among the objectives of CODE Teams is to assess the health care capacity of LGUs so they can be replicated in other areas.

The CODE Team which visited San Pedro was impressed with the measures implemented by the LGU to address the pandemic. These included the establishment of a 24/7 COVID hotline; the deployment of roving public address systems to remind people about minimum health standards; the launching of expanded detection of symptomatics in sitios, puroks and subdivision phases; and the construction of a COVID Ligtas Center at the Central Elementary School.

Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Dominic Tolentino stressed the importance of communicating timely and correct information to the public, especially that misinformation can cost lives during the pandemic.

“Tayo po na nagpapatakbo ng ating komunidad ay kailangang magpalabas po ng tamang impormasyon dahil tayo po ang mga shepherds ng ating Presidente sa paglaban sa COVID-19,” Tolentino said.

Meanwhile, San Pedro City Mayor Lourdes Cataquiz also highlighted other preventive measures they have put in place since March.

“Hindi po kami nagtanggal ng quarantine pass at mga checkpoint, so ang mindset namin parang nung una na naka ECQ tayo,” Cataquiz said.

Meanwhile in Biñan, the city government said that it has already distributed three tranches of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds to its residents.

It also utilizes Bind360, a contact tracing app which can track the movement of its citizens within the city. The information from the app is fed to the city’s dashboard, and from there, people are able to access COVID-19 statistics on Biñan’s official Facebook page.

In preparation for blended learning, installation of fiber optics within the city limits is underway. This was complemented with the grant of 151 laptops to teachers and 200 smart TVs to public schools.

“Isang magandang nakita ko rito sa Biñan is leadership. Leadership is everything. If you have leadership, you can motivate people to follow the rules,” Galvez said.


Overcoming the challenges

Despite the good COVID-19 response of both cities, there are still challenges that need to be addressed.

In San Pedro, Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez said there is a need to ramp up the testing capacity of the city as it still does not have its own RT-PCR machine.

“Ine-encourage ko kayo na makipag-MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) kayo sa iba (na laboratory), para halimbawa if mag shut down bigla ang RITM, may mapagdadalhan kayo ng PCR tests,” Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, Galvez stressed that the city needs to build more quarantine facilities to be able to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

“Tutulungan po namin kayo sa isolation facilities,” Galvez assured local officials.

Responding to questions on home quarantine, particularly for workers who will test positive for the virus, Galvez maintained that they should either be quarantined in an isolation area in the workplace or in a dedicated quarantine facility.

“Hindi pwede sa bahay na home quarantine, kasi hahawaan lang nung positive patient ‘yung pamilya niya,” Galvez said.

In Biñan, overcrowding of passengers in company shuttles is a concern that also must be addressed.

“Dapat icheck ng company guard ang vehicle bago umalis, kung 50% capacity lang ba. Then, ‘yung guard sa technopark, magchecheck din. Then kami, magchecheck din kami sa labas,” Biñan Mayor Arman Dimaguila told company representatives.

“Kapag nag-violate ang shuttle service, tanggalan ng kontrata,” Hernandez added.



To further strengthen the partnership between the private sector and LGUs, Alaska Milk Corporation, which has a plant located in San Pedro, donated one ARCHITECT i1000 SR Immunoassay Analyzer to the city to help boost its testing capacity.

The national government also turned over face masks and protective personal equipment (PPEs) to the city governments Biñan and San Pedro, to protect its frontliners and citizens.

“Napakahalaga po ng inyong pagpunta sa amin, dahil nakita po ninyo ang aming kalagayan, at ang aming mga ginagawa. At kami po ay nabahagian ninyo ng mga dapat naming gawin pa,” San Pedro City Mayor Lourdes Cataquiz said.

Meanwhile, Governor Hernandez reminded public servants to remain steadfast in their fight against the virus.

“Hindi na po sipag at galing ang laban ngayon. Endurance na po. Sangkatutak ang guidelines na pinalalabas at magsasawa ka kakapatupad. Pero tuloy lang, huwag tayong magsasawa,” Hernandez said. ###