North Cotabato officials clash on choice of isolation facility for Covid-19 PUIs

Town hall of President Roxas in North Cotabato. MindaNews file photo by TOTO LOZANO

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 3 April) – Officials of President Roxas town in North Cotabato have expressed opposition to the plan of the provincial government to use the town’s community hospital as an isolation facility for persons under investigation in case the provincial hospital could no longer accommodate them.

At the center of the controversy is the President Roxas Provincial Community Hospital in Barangay New Cebu, where some residents and officials placed placards on April 1 expressing their opposition to the plan.

President Roxas Mayor Jonathan Mahimpit said he was not informed earlier of the plan and was just as surprised as everyone in his town when told about it.

On April 1, the Sangguniang Bayan passed Resolution Number 2020-119 opposing the plan, saying it would make the town susceptible to the virus because neighboring provinces already have confirmed cases.

It added that since the hospital is near the residential area of New Cebu, the plan ccaused “panic and disturbance among the residents.”

It also claimed there no prior coordination happened between the municipal government and the provincial government regarding the establishment of an isolation facility.

It said the plan will negate preemptive measures for the safety and well-being of the people of President Roxas.

Mahimpit said they retracted their earlier opinion on the matter after Governor Nancy Catamco agreed to listen to their plea.

The operations manager of North Cotabato’s task force on Covid-19 claimed the local government of the municipality of President Roxas could not hinder the provincial government from using its community hospital as isolation facility for persons under investigation (PUIs).

But provincial board member Dr. Philbert Malaluan maintained the plan to use the community hospital as an isolation facility stands.

Malaluan, also the manager of the Emergency Operations Center of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19, said this is so because the hospital is funded by the provincial government.

“The facility is owned by the provincial government. But of course, we do respect peoples’ opinion,” he said.

He said that anytime next week officials from the Department of Health in Region 12 will visit the hospital to assess its needs as one of the three possible isolation facilities in the province.

Malaluan, however, clarified that the plan to use the hospital as an isolation facility would only push through if the Cotabato Provincial Hospital could no longer accommodate more PUIs.

“Pag nagkulang na ang mga beds (If there are no more beds available), then, that’s the time we will use other facilities like the community hospital,” he said.

He said he was saddened that some barangay officials instigated residents to hold a rally outside the hospital.

“This is for the safety of everyone. We are not doing this to make life difficult for you. I know what you, barangay officials, did was just too petty, but please, cooperate with the government,” he said. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar/MindaNews)