CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (19 AUGUST 2020)— The continuous scaling up of the country’s healthcare system will be the key in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic in the long run, according to National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez Jr.

“Sinabi po natin sa Congress, it’s time to invest in our health services, sa ating hospitals, and health workers,” Galvez said during a press conference in this Northern Mindanao city on Wednesday.

The chief implementer, along with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, visited the city to assess its COVID-19 situation, and propose preventive and mitigation measures.

Galvez praised the city’s treatment strategy to contain the spread of the virus, as he noted that the local government was able to do this successfully without enforcing hard lockdowns.

“Napakaganda po ng example ng CDO na nag-create po kayo ng COVID-dedicated hospital, which I think, ‘yun po ang pinakamagandang strategic decision ninyo, kaya maganda ‘yung nangyayari sa CDO,” Galvez said.

As of August 18, the city has 82 active cases, 75 of which are either Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) or Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs).

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno explained the city’s approach to addressing the challenges brought about by the pandemic, which he said is anchored on the effective implementation of NAP Phase II.

Under the second phase of the plan, the government aims to create a balance between ensuring the health of the people and reviving the nation’s economy.

“Ang worry ko talaga is economy. Hindi naman namin isasakripisyo ang public health. Public health is paramount at all times, but we cannot kill the economy and education in the name of public health,” Moreno said.

Moreno also lauded the national government for its clear policy direction and strong support to local government units.

“I will be amiss if I don’t recognize the leadership of the National Government, the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). In April, the IATF asserted its authority. That’s very crucial. Yung pagsabi na hindi na pwedeng mag-declare ng quarantine unless IATF says so, that’s very decisive,” he said.

To aid the city’s frontliners, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 turned over 2,050 sets of personal protective equipment (PPEs), 4,000 N95 masks, 4,000 M88 masks, and 2,560 pieces of apron to the local government.


Bayanihan spirit

Meanwhile, the city government of Cagayan de Oro volunteered to help quarantine ROFs and LSIs bound for nearby Iligan City.

As of August 19, Iligan City has 105 active cases, 94 of which are local transmissions.

Galvez, who has travelled to various parts of the country to observe the COVID-19 response efforts of LGUs, suggested ways on how Iligan can curb the spread of the disease.

“Ang akin pong suhestyon is tingnan niya (Iligan Mayor) ang sitwasyon sa kanyang lugar, ‘yung granular affectation. Pwede po sya magdeclare ng ECQ o MECQ dun sa affected puroks or barangays, kesa pag nagkaroon ng spike eh ideclare na ECQ ang buong Iligan,” he said.

“Tandaan po natin na ang ECQ o MECQ is not sustainable. Kung hindi na po kaya ng Iligan na magbigay ng SAP, talagang mahihirapan po, kasi ‘yung mga tao, talagang lalabas para magtrabaho,” Galvez added.

Moreno appealed to his constituents for understanding and compassion during the pandemic.

“Sana maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan na ang tulong natin sa ating mga kapitbahay, tulong na rin para sa lahat, tulong na rin para sa sarili natin,” Moreno said.

“We are all in the same boat together, and we need to help each other. Hindi pwedeng focus lang ako sa sarili ko, because the rest will be affecting us if we do not help them,” he added.

Andanar, who hails from Cagayan de Oro, pointed out that such acts of kindness will enable the city to weather the health crisis.

“This is a very good Samaritan gesture from the father of Cagayan de Oro City,” he said.

In the meantime, Galvez directed the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force X to focus on the plight of ROFs and LSIs in the city.

“Tutukan natin ang Iligan. Next week, we will try to go there, dadalhin namin ang CODE (Coordinated Efforts to Defeat Epidemic) Team para makita natin how we can help them (Iligan),” Galvez told the RIATF.

Galvez also highlighted the key role of the region’s contact tracing teams, composed of uniformed personnel, in the fight against COVID-19.

“Kapag hindi natin pinaigting ang contact tracing, magkakaroon po tayo ng community transmission, meaning mahihirapan na tayo malaman saan nanggaling ang infection,” he said.

This is our defining moment. This is the time to work together to save lives, our people, to save humanity,” the Chief Implementer stressed.  ###