With the incidence of new COVID-19 cases growing by the day, Senator Win Gatchalian said Local Government Units (LGUs) should lead in the fight against the dreaded COVID-19, emphasizing that Test, Quarantine and Treatment (TQT) are the steps that LGUs should take to stem the tide.
For one, Gatchalian said LGUs should have more autonomy in procuring testing kits or setting up testing facilities to fast track detection of COVID-19 positive cases from every household living in every street within every barangay.
“Naniniwala ako na ang pinakamabisang paraan para labanan ang virus ay dapat mag-umpisa sa local level. Wag na nating paabutin ito sa ospital dahil marami ang mga pasyente at hindi na kakayanin ng ating mga ospital”, Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker from Valenzuela shared what is being done in the city. Valenzuela has started its localized mass testing last Saturday and resumed Monday, April 13. This, after the city has signed a memorandum of agreement with The Medical City to conduct mass testing, the very first Public Private Partnership for mass testing against COVID-19. In its agreement with the hospital, the TMC processes the tests and reserves 25 tests per day for Valenzuela City but can be expanded to 50 depending on a first-come-first-served availability or if the hospital does not have too much to process in a day. Based on the results, authorities will identify persons that need to be quarantined or isolated.
“Sa Valenzuela, ang una naming tine-test ay ang mga may sakit at ang kanilang household, mga kasama nila sa bahay, mga kamag-anak nila, at iba pang nakapaligid sa kanila, pati na mga kapitbahay. Dahil nakita namin na nagkakaroon ng hawaan sa loob pa lang ng bahay hanggang sa kumalat na sa komunidad. Kapag natest agad at nag quarantine ang taong may sakit, sa bahay pa lang hindi na kakalat at hindi na rin aabot sa komunidad,” explained Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said that LGUs should innovate to save their own constituents from the onslaught of the virus. With mass testing set to be conducted on April 14, Gatchalian said LGUs should already be procuring their testing kits at this point.
He, however, said that LGUs should have optimum support from the national government to capacitate them and help flatten the curve.
Gatchalian added that LGUs should already be tapping additional sources of funding that they can use in their COVID-19 response, including their 20 percent development fund. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) recently issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2020, which gives LGUs more flexibility in utilizing their 20 percent development fund to address the COVID-19 pandemic.