Bukidnon eyes “new normal code” if IATF lifts quarantine
MALAYBALAY CITY (July 9) – The Province of Bukidnon is ironing out a New Normal Code, which it plans to implement once the Inter-agency Task Force against Infectious Diseases lifts the quarantine status of the province.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Bukidnon has initiated its review of the provisions in the proposed ordinance for the New Normal Code in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the province.
Board member Oliver Owen L. Garcia said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has requested local government units to pass the measure.
“The said ordinance will fill the gap the moment the implemented community quarantine will be lifted,” Garcia said.
Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. told BukidnonNews.Net once they give that go signal, it means we are marching forward to reopening our economy at full capacity.
“But subject to very stringent defensive measures (such as) adherence to minimum public health standard practices, approval by the mayors of the new normal plans and inspection and monitoring of compliance by an inspectorate team,” he said.
Beltran said in the proposed new normal code, all establishments, gatherings and activities previously limited to 50 percent capacity shall be allowed to operate at full capacity unless a calibrated capacity is imposed by the governor and mayors.
Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. and other invited officials were given a chance to present their comments on the proposed ordinance during the committee hearing held at Kaamulan Folk Arts Theatre in Malaybalay City morning on July 7, prior to the SP’s regular session on Tuesday. As of last week, it has been passed on first reading.
The SP adopted the inputs from the participants in the open forum for the proposed legislation, authored by all SP members.
Zubiri said COVID-19 is a serious sickness that caused the provincial government to spend P700 million in aid to poor residents and P5 million for the repatriation Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs), along with others expenses. The governor expressed hesitance on the Code at first due to budget limitations.
It was pointed out eventually that the funds for the implementation of the ordinance will be taken from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management budget, annual health services and annual health sanitation allocations of the province, towns and cities.
The proposed Code’s explanatory note said the LGU deemed it necessary to provide or prescribe a response strategy, guidelines and interventions in the province of Bukidnon to ensure the health and safety of its constituents and prevent the rising number of deaths and infections.
It is also emphasized that the ordinance aims to define the minimum health standards for COVID-19 preparedness and response strategy to mitigate the threat of COIVID-19 in the province of Bukidnon.
As proposed, wearing of facemask or face coverings is mandatory to all residents who leave their homes going to public space pursuant to Provincial Ordinance No. 2020-021R.
All establishments, offices, shops, business, restaurants, stores must ensure physical distancing for at least a meter in the conduct of their transactions.
Establishments will be ordered to ensure access to basic hygiene facilities such as toilets, hand washing areas, water, soap, 70 percent alcohol/sanitizer in the work places.
Handshaking, kissing and hugging as a manner of greeting will be disallowed as provided under Ordinance No. 2020-022R(26th SP).
The LGUs may continue to enforce juvenile curfew ordinances. However, for the adults and business curfews, the same shall be lifted unless warranted by peculiar circumstances in the LGUs’ jurisdiction.
In the Code, border checkpoints shall continue to be operational and to be manned by the police.
Other important provisions such as opening of all government and private offices, services, business establishments, identifying and isolating symptomatic individuals, monitoring, tracing and treatment protocols and others are also incorporated in the proposed measure.
Beltran said while the cases in the province has increased, there are no local transmissions.
“The imported cases were contained right away as soon as they arrived in the Regional Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, he said.
He added that they were all subjected to rapid tests. Those who tested positive remained in the center for swab testing and isolation. Those who tested negative were allowed to proceed to their LGUs concerned, which takes charge of their 14-day quarantine in their own facilities before going home to their families.
Beltran said while the province continues to be on guard against COVID-19, it has to revive its economy and let the people resume with jobs and livelihood.
He noted that the battle against COVID-19 is a long one. “It could last for two years,” he added.
“We have to make a critical balancing act between the life and health of our people, and their right to have a decent life by allowing them to work and earn.
Beltran said governments cannot sustain its operations without the businesses and other engines of the economy. If business go bankrupt, government will follow, if we will not reopen our economy,” he added.
“While COVID is manageable, poverty, famine and hunger, is not,” he added. (Mel B. Madera did most of the reporting for this story.)