Service delivery innovations under Covid-19 ‘lockdown’

With the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Luzon and several areas in the Philippines, and the advent of social media that facilitates information-exchange and opinion/observation-sharing, local government units (LGUs) are forced to act and perform their duties. While some have been innovative enough to make the Coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19) situation a money-making venture for their barangays by selling quarantine passes, a significant number of local officials are rising above the challenge and created innovations to deliver the services expected of them.

Updated as of April 5, 2020

“Adversity reveals genius” — Horace

With the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Luzon and several areas in the Philippines, and the advent of social media that facilitates information-exchange and opinion/observation-sharing, local government units (LGUs) are forced to act and perform their duties. While some have been innovative enough to make the Coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19) situation a money-making venture for their barangays by selling quarantine passes, a significant number of local officials are rising above the challenge and created innovations to deliver the services expected of them.

The list below is a work in progress. If you know of any LGU innovation in addressing Covid-19, feel free to drop a comment below.

Mobile Palengke, Pasig City. In the first few days of the ECQ, Pasig City was criticized because its public markets crowd with people violating the very essence of the lockdown cum quarantine. Instead of hitting back at critics, Mayor Vico Sotto deployed five roving stores that sell food and discourage the people from going to the market.

The Pasig City government’s “Mobile Palengke” which minimizes the tendency of the people to leave their homes just to buy food in the market during the coronavirus lockdown. Photo from Vico Sotto’s Facebook page

Anti-Hoarding Ordinance, Valenzuela and Pasig Cities. The Valenzuela City Ordinance No. 688 series of 2020 or popularly known as the Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying Ordinance sets a temporary cap on the number of basic goods consumers can buy in times of public health emergencies. This is to prevent individuals from hoarding essential commodities particularly during the ECQ. Valenzuela’s ordinance was replicated also in Pasig City.

Disinfectant Drones, Pasig City. To minimize human exposure and be able to enter narrow streets and alleys, Pasig City procured  three units of the DJI MG-1P, an octocopter drone with a 10-liter payload. The drones were loaded with disinfecting solution and used as misting sprays. The 10-liter solution can cover an approximate distance of 300 meters.

Source: Batak Facebook page

Non-conventional Covid-19 Food Packs, various LGUs. The typical food pack is composed of rice, cans of sardines and noodles. But in these times when a strong immunity from Coronavirus is needed, the typical food pack contents is not enough. For Pasig City, they included vitamins.

In Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, Mayor Ferdinand Maliwanag distributed fresh fish not only as a food assistance but also as an income-generation mechanism for the local fishermen. Mandaluyong City in the National Capital Region also distributed fresh vegetables like fresh vegetables, like squash, bitter gourd, eggplant, and onion that the city government directly procured from the farmers of Nueva Ecija. For Alaminos City, Pangasinan, they also added watermelon. Distribution of fruits and vegetables is also a way to provide income for the farmers in the locality and neighboring areas.

Makeshift Rescue Tents, Mandaluyong City. To better implement the community quarantine, homeless individuals, street dwellers and vagabonds were rescued from the streets and temporarily housed in makeshift tents. Those rescued in the city but have houses outside the National Capital Region were given assistance to return to their residences.

Hotels as Quarantine Facilities, Makati City, Pasig City. To help address the shortage of beds and at the same time contain persons under investigation (PUI) for Covid-19, Makati and Pasig Cities converted hotels into isolation or quarantine centers. Makati converted the Makati Friendship Suites into a facility that can house up to 100 patients and equipped this with medical equipment including x-ray machines, defibrillators and cardiac monitors.

Pasig City also transformed Dahlia Hotel into a quarantine facility which can house up to 300 persons simultaneously. The Dahlia Hotel will be used for free with water and electricity consumption to be shouldered by the city government.

Earth-friendly rides for health workers and frontliners, Pasig City and Manila City. Because of the lockdown, mass transportation ceased operations. This became a challenge for health workers and frontliners in the fight against Covid-19 particularly for those who do not own vehicles. In Pasig City, in partnership with the Global Electric Transport, operated two electric buses that picks-up these quarantine-exempted individuals at designated time and places. Similarly, Manila City used e-trikes and hired their drivers thus achieving two goals — transportation of health workers and frontliners, and income generation for the e-trike drivers. The program is in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment.

Pasig City’s e-vehicle deployed to transport healthworkers and frontliners and operationalized in partnership with GET.

Photo credit:

Read at Home Contest, Sangguniang Kabataan, Bigaa, Legazpi City. An initiative launched by SK Chairman Jordan Alpajaro of Bigaa, Legazpi City which aims to support the program of the Department of Education (DepEd) and make the community quarantine situation of the students more meaningful and productive. Under the program, students who may want to join may send a video of themselves reading along with a school ID. Students may join their representative grade categories, will be aired via Facebook, and judged according to mechanics.

Indelible ink markings of PUMs, Panganiban, Camarines Norte. Through Executive Order No. AMN-013-1T-2020, persons under monitoring (PUMs) are being marked with indelible ink on their forefingers. This is to strictly enforce the 14-day quarantine of PUMs.

Do you also know of other innovations or best practices in local government service delivery? Feel free to share.

Spreading undue panic

My attention was called several times due to the post ‘“The Kit” and zero confirmed Covid-19 case in Bicol Region‘. Many were encouraging with a couple saying the post is spreading undue panic. The latter troubled me because that means I wasn’t successful in driving my message across.

The greatest failure in communication is when the sender is misunderstood. So I asked one of those with negative appreciation why he thinks that way. His response: The numbers are gloomy and you are implying that the lack of tested Covid-19 cases could just be a facade and imply that there is more.

The numbers, indeed, are gloomy but we can’t manipulate the numbers just to say that everything is well. As of March 23, there are already 462 confirmed cases in the country with 33 deaths. Allegedly, six of them are doctors. The sad thing is, we have only tested 1,619 and the Department of Health is still sitting on the idea of mass testing — again maybe because of the lack of manpower and testing kits.

We can package the message enticingly beautiful but the more we do so, the more we defeat the purpose of asking our fellowmen to follow quarantine rules, and encourage our government officials to compete with the real patients for the available resources and health workers’time as well as condone them to sit on their obligations. Patients are dying, some of them doctors, even before learning the results of their Covid tests while waiting for the results. Politicians, on the other hand, would want to be tested first and get their results fast despite the fact that they are asymptomatic and do not belong to the priority group that needs to be tested. At least 34 government officials demanded the Research Institute for Tropical medicine (RITM) to be tested.

In these trying times, we need to beef up hope. But that doesn’t mean we need to lie or tell half truths. That also doesn’t mean we should forget exacting accountability especially from those who that asked for and received our trusts — the government officials who are taking cuts in the form of taxes our hard-earned money. We did not elect or are paying for these officials to be the first to live and let the rest of us die.

We expect that we will have responsible officials and leaders who, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, deferred Covid testing having no symptoms just to save resources and give way to those in need. And moreso, we expect government officials and leaders who, in these trying times, will lead us to that hope — a hope that together, as a country, as a people, we will live through the day worrying not about our food or bills or mortgages or rents; and wake up again tomorrow, find a cure and overcome this pandemic.

Facts and unadulterated truths could wake up our government officials. We have done this with some of the 34 officials who availed a VIP treatment for Covid testing asking for apology. We have done this that the Department of the Interior and Local Government was able to issue a warning to barangays that tried to make money out of the situation by selling quarantine passes. We have done this that attention are now slowly being given to our health workers and frontliners — albeit with some riding on the latter’s popularity. We have done this that the bill granting emergency powers to the President has been watered down and one of the crucial provisions removed — that is, the provision to grant the President the power to take over companies and utilities being run by the private sector.

We need to spread facts and unadulterated truths. That is what we should do. Lies and half truths fuel suspicion and that is what scares people. That is what causes panic.

Original source here>>>

“The kit” and zero confirmed Covid-19 case in Bicol Region

Despite the increasing cases of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Metro Manila and the nearby regions, the Bicol peninsula remains free of the pandemic albeit with a number of persons under monitoring (PUM) and persons under investigation (PUI). As of March 20, the Department of Health (DOH) Region 5 reported 39 PUIs and 97,215 PUMs.

With the influx of travelers from Manila prior to the lockdown and the continuing violation of these travelers to undergo self-quarantine, DOH Regional Director Ernie Vera projects a possible infection of 14% of the 6.1 million population leading to the death of 5% o 306,691.

But while the social media is abuzz with violators of the community quarantine and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers, the DOH maintained a zero confirmed Covid-19 case in the region.

On one end, this is a good news. But on the other, this calls for alarm — not unless the descendants of Handyong and Baltog have developed a legendary immunity that could fight a virus more venomous than Oryol’s or at least the saliva of Tambaloslos. The reality is, Bicolanos while claiming to be “uragons”, still remain as mortal as the rest of the Filipinos. And the dreadful reality is: We lack COVID-19 testing kits and therefore we cannot confirm possible cases.

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PRRD Admin’s brand of “Federalism”?

According to William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. The case, however, may not be true for federalism.

One of the campaign slogans of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) in the 2016 elections is transforming the Philippines into a federal government — a move met with mixed reactions as this will topple the balance of power that is currently Manila-centric. Federalism is a form of government where powers are distributed between the central government and the states or local governments with the latter enjoying a greater degree of autonomy and/or independence as against unitary systems.

Only one in every four, however, knows what federalism is and from those who know, many are wondering what flavor of federalism is the PRRD administration offering. For that reason, the government, with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) embarked on a nationwide information and education campaign on the subject matter — only to draw flak with the “pepe and dede” federalism drive of then Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson. Even the Senator Nene Pimentel, one of the strong advocates of federalism and earlier endorsed Uson,’ found himself eating crow, as a “filthy” video made by the sexy-dancer-turned-Duterte-administration-official supposedly promoting the proposed change in the form of government burned like wildfire on the internet.’


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Gaffes, blunders and half-baked policies, decisions amidst COVID-19

Learning the lessons of the late banning of flights from China and Corona virus disease (COVID) – 19, national officials are now scrambling to make announcements on how to implement the “lockdown” of Metro Manila. The problem, this created one blunder to another and created confusion as well as added fuel to the panicky situation.

The first blunder was created by President Rodrigo Roa duterte (PRRD) himself by spilling the beans. While his bureaucrats were trying to sugarcoat the pronouncement, PRRD said, “Community quarantine is hereby imposed in the [entirety] of Metro Manila … Ayaw namin gamitin ‘yan pero — kasi takot kayo sabihin “lockdown”. And a — but it’s a lockdown.”

Because of the spilled beans, the supermarkets and groceries were filled with panic buyers emptying shelves of food and sanitation items.

Continue reading “Gaffes, blunders and half-baked policies, decisions amidst COVID-19”