The barangays remain to be the main battleground as the city courses its way through the sudden spike of Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said in a virtual meeting with city and barangay officials Tuesday evening.
“You know the situation today, and I am sure you will act correspondingly. We will continue to ask for your support and cooperation,” Leonardia said.
With Bacolod once again seeing an alarming increase in the number of Covid cases, Leonardia said barangay officials must again do their part in the fight against the virus.
“This is really a barangay operation matter. We are not going to say that we are back to square one because there’s no doubt about it—we have already put in place many systems and infrastructure we did not have at the start of this pandemic. Rather, what is apparent now is that we are back in the danger zone,” Leonardia said in a press release last night.
The virtual meeting discussed pertinent matters relating to Covid surge containment measures and other issues that required the active participation of the barangays.
Aside from Bacolod, the number of cases also increased in the National Capital Region, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, and the cities of Cebu and Davao.
The mayor said highly-urbanized cities, like Bacolod, are “vulnerable” in terms of the viral spread due to population density.
“Let’s all think about what Secretary Carlito Galvez said to me, that with the increase of cases in Manila, there is always a tendency that this will spill over to the highly urbanized cities,” Leonardia said.
Before the open forum, the mayor presented a report on the current Covid status and the containment efforts taken since the onset of the pandemic.
Leonardia also discussed plans on vaccine availment and rollout, vaccination education campaign, factors contributing to the surge of cases in the city, and surge control and containment measures that should be implemented at the grassroots level, the press release said.
In the open forum, barangay officials, personnel of the Bacolod City Police Office, and members of Task Force Disiplina agreed to coordinate with each other.
“The police, TFD, and tanods will have to organize a composite monitoring team per barangay to be clustered under each bac-up station. In the meantime, at least one TFD member per barangay should already accompany the tanods when they go around to monitor the proper wearing of face masks and shields,” Councilor Lady Gles Pallen, president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, said.
P/Col. Manuel Placido, BCPO director, said the single objective is to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The fight is in the barangay level. I always tell the police to persuade and encourage the citizens to comply with the protocols and avoid, as much as possible, using force,” he added.
“Unlike other places, we can still manage the crisis. If we recovered from the high cases last year, we can still do it again. The real work is with the barangay officials since they are the ones always visible and near to the people,” Placido said.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, quoting retired Maj. General Mel Feliciano who helped set up the Bacolod Emergency Operations Center, added that the fight is “at the barangay level since you are the frontliners.”
On the concern raised by a barangay captain on the conduct of religious gatherings in small or enclosed spaces, Councilor Renecito Novero said this can be settled by talking directly to the religious leaders.
“They are very respectful people, our pastors. Just tell them frankly and gently and they will understand,” Novero said.
Meanwhile, Leonardia, Familiaran, EOC executive director Em Ang, Councilor Dindo Ramos – chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Transportation, and other city officials, also discussed the regulation of public transportation and the stricter implementation of minimum health protocols in the transport sector for their safety and that of the riding public, the press release said.
Leonardia said these measures are not only geared towards protecting the health of public transport operators and drivers, but also to help them maintain their livelihoods amid the surge of cases.
“Cities are normally the epicenters of the virus because of the dense population. The larger the population, the greater is the chance or possibility of the virus transmission,” the mayor stressed.
Ramos, also the chair of the Economic Stimulus Team, urged the operators and drivers to strictly comply with the regulations and health protocols.
“Let’s obey the health protocols, not because we are afraid of police officers, or because the mayor orders it; we have to do it because we need to protect ourselves and our families,” Ramos said.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan reminded the transport group leaders of the seven public transport commandments of the Department of Transportation.
These are the wearing of face masks and face shields, no talking and making phone calls while taking public transportation, no eating inside public transport, keeping public utility vehicles well-ventilated, frequent disinfection, not allowing those who have Covid symptoms inside the public transportation, and observing appropriate physical distancing.*