The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today said that punong barangays (PBs) will take on an intensified role to ensure compliance to minimum public health standards (MPHS) and to prevent mass gathering following violations in “super spreader events” which led to COVID-19 transmission.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that super spreader activities in illegal mass gatherings have been prevalent lately requiring more effort on the community or barangay level. He said that this cannot be enforced solely by the local government unit (LGU) without the help of PBs in localizing the implementation of national government policies.
“The reality is violations on MPHS and super spreaders happen in barangays under our PBs. Itong karagdagang tungkulin na ito will give them extra leverage to police their kabarangays and to counter any super spreader events to happen again,” Año said.
Año said that the DILG will issue a Memorandum Circular assigning tasks to PBs in intensifying the campaign against holding of activities that can potentially be sources of COVID-19 super spreaders.
Among these, he said, is the organization of Barangay COVID-19 Operations Center (BCOC) and Barangay Tanod Health Patrols (BTHP) or Barangay Disiplina Brigades; providing a hotline or emergency numbers for reporting of mass gathering incidents; and, the strict monitoring and implementation of MPHS.
PBs are also given a greenlight to regularly inspect sports, recreation, and leisure facilities; and, regulate, limit, prohibit public gatherings, such as drinking, sabong, tupada, fiesta, parades, and other various religious events and cultural festivals.
“Sa panahong ang laban sa COVID-19 ay nasa mga tahanan at barangay na, malaki ang inaasahan natin sa ating mga PB. With these new roles placed upon their shoulders, we hope that positive change in our continuing war against coronavirus will take place,” Año said.
The DILG Chief likewise said the PBs, with the assistance of barangay tanods, homeowners association, etc., are expected to provide assistance to community pantries all over the country. He said that the safety of the beneficiaries and organizers is the top priority.
PBs are also directed to coordinate with the City/Municipal COVID-19 Operations Center, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for some assistance. He likewise said that BCOC should have a direct link to PNP and BFP stations for a seamless coordination between law enforcers in running after health protocol violators.
Año said that, ultimately, “PBs and other barangay officials are expected to implement measures consistent with IATF regulations, policies and guidelines of the DILG, Department of Health (DOH) and other national government agencies.”
Increasing vaccine confidence through information drive
The DILG likewise said that the 42,046 barangays and its officials are slated to assist in the information campaign down at the grassroots to generate demand and allay misinformation and doubts in COVID-19 vaccines.
Año said that the proximity of the barangay officials to the people is its main arsenal in communicating the urgent need for the public to take advantage of COVID-19 vaccines at hand.
He said that through DILG Memorandum Circular 2021-19, barangay officials can conduct assemblies, town halls meetings, and other forms of local engagement activities with complete compliance to the minimum public health standards (MPHS) imposed by the national government.
This was also seconded by DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño in his appearance at the DOH Town Hall Session saying that “Mayroon kayong 42,026-strong na mga barangay. Kung gusto niyo ng matinding information dissemination go to the barangays, trabaho namin yan. Sanay na kami sa ganitong trabaho, most especially kapag health ang pinag-uusapan.”
Diño shared that with the proper capacity development and training, the more than six million barangay personnel nationwide can even assist in the mass vaccination once the huge bulk of COVID-19 vaccines reach the country.