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Local execs told to push nCoV measures

February 05, 2020 - Wednesday 6:02 PM by Jon Joaquin

Article Banner Image CHECK. A security officer checks the temperature of tenants of an office building in Manila. President Rodrigo Duterte warned local officials that they face charges for nonfeasance if they do not act on the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV) “in accordance with the tempo dictated by the national government.” Ted ALJIBE/AFP

President Rodrigo Duterte warned local officials that they face charges for nonfeasance or failure to perform an act that is required by law if they do not act on the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV) “in accordance with the tempo dictated by the national government.”

The President gave the warning at the 46th Cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, February 4, in Malacañang, during which the government’s response to the nCoV topped the agenda.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President expressed his concern about the welfare of the Filipinos flying from China or its Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau to the Philippines.

Panelo said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported that the Department of Health (DOH) is now preparing the drug rehabilitation center inside Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as a quarantine area which can accommodate 10,000 individuals.

With the arrival of the initial batch of repatriated Filipinos expected on Saturday at the Clark Airport, the President instructed Duque to go to Fort Magsaysay “to properly address the people affected in detail.”

Duterte had earlier threatened to expropriate the drug rehabilitation center to provide quarantine facilities amid the spread of the coronavirus, saying Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali was against turning the center into a containment facility.

Panelo said during the Cabinet meeting, Duterte said officials on the ground, particularly barangay captains, “should act in accordance with the tempo dictated by the national government or face charges for nonfeasance.”

The President also said the public must observe the protocols and rules designed to combat the virus.

Panelo said Duterte instructed the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) “to spend more time in informing the public of the health advisories and guidelines laid out by our health experts with an assurance that if the public will just observe the same, then they should be safe from being infected by the virus.”

Chinese nationals wait to be allowed inside the departure area at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on February 3, 2020. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra reported that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is implementing the directives of the President on the general restriction of entry of individuals coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions. Ted ALJIBE / AFP

Safeguards
This developed as the number of people infected in China jumped to 24,000 on Wednesday and millions more in the mainland were ordered to stay indoors.

The confirmed death toll in mainland China rose to 490 after hardest-hit Hubei province reported 65 more people had died.

Duque gave assurance that all safeguards are now in place in order to contain the virus and requested the help of various departments, such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Justice (DOJ, as well as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), to prevent it from spreading in the country.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, reported that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is implementing the directives of the President on the general restriction of entry of individuals coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente had announced on Sunday that he has ordered the implementation of the expanded travel ban.

“All foreign nationals, regardless of their nationality, who will be coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions shall be turned back and not allowed to enter the Philippines,” Morente said in a statement.

He clarified, however, that Filipino nationals and Philippine permanent resident visa holders will be allowed to enter subject to a 14-day quarantine, to be implemented by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

He added that the ban includes passengers who have been to China, Hong Kong, and Macau in the last 14 days.

For her part, Education Secretary Leonor Briones gave assurance that the Department of Education (DepEd) is committed to protecting the interest of students and learners.

She said DepEd will be following the advice of the DOH such as issuing advisories for students to avoid huge crowds and discouraging schools from conducting field trips.
 

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