BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
A former Negros Occidental provincial board member yesterday said he has submitting a proposed action plan for Bacolod City and Negros Occidental to fight COVID-19, to the Office of the President through Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Dr. Melvin Ibanez, a health frontliner, said he drafted the proposed action plan with contributions from health professionals/frontliners and supported by the sugar industry leaders because once the milling season starts, millions of small-medium sugarcane planters and their families are the most vulnerable if no mitigating measures and a strategy are in place.
Ibanez said there is a need for a unified alliance between Bacolod and Negros Occidental, through a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Executive Council to formulate policies, plans and courses of action during the pandemic, supported by sanggunian resolutions.
A Multi Sectoral Advisory Council composed of representatives from the private sector is also needed to assess, strategize, and make recommendations to assist the JIATF Executive Council, he added.
Among his recommendations is the declaration of a temporary state of health emergency in localized areas to capacitate local government units to prepare stand up quarantine facilities, and autonomy to implement health rules.
There is a need to speedily build makeshift quarantine facilities and a 50-bed facility for moderate COVID cases, he said.
LGUs should be encouraged to forego major infrastructure projects and divert funds to finance health facilities dedicated to COVID-19, Ibanez added.
He is also calling for a moratorium on the opening of airports and seaports, and a temporary suspension of the Balik Probinsya program during the lockdown.
The detailed proposals of Ibanez will be sent to the Office of the President.*