DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 November) – Local government units (LGUs) need to draft guidelines to ensure that the minimum public health standards will be observed during election rallies, Alex Roldan, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Davao Region said.
Roldan told “Usapang Pangkalusugan” streamed live over the Facebook page of Department of Health (DOH)-Davao that the LGUs are authorized to enforce their own policies to compel organizers of election-related mass gatherings to adhere to the basic health protocols to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“It’s the LGUs that should ultimately set up their own policies that are in line with the guidelines of Interagency Task Force (IATF-MEID). We encourage the LGUs to set up your own guidelines for those who are holding rallies or caravans,” he added.
He said the LGUs should have the protocols ready by the time politicians start asking for permits to organize mass gatherings and other public events in the region during the election season.
Roldan said the LGUs are empowered to stop activities that breach LGU guidelines on rallies and caravans.
The official said the decrease in cases in the region has nothing to do with the election season.
As of November 23, the DOH-Davao reported 23 new infections in the region, bringing the total cases to 104,014 with 1,213 active, 99,018 recoveries, and 3,783 deaths.
Of this total, Davao City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mindanao, recorded 53,724 total cases, Davao de Oro, 7,746 in Davao del Norte, 19,611, Davao del Sur, 11,527, Davao Occidental, 3,820, and Davao Oriental, 7,586.
Dr. Michelle Schlosser, spokesperson for COVID-19 Task Force of Davao City, added that the positivity rate in the city has decreased due to the high vaccination rate and continued implementation of strategies, particularly intensive contract-tracing and testing.
“It’s not because of the election because when we test, positivity rate is really low. We did not stop implementing strategies such as intensive contact-tracing and extended testing,” she said.
She added that the testing capacity of the molecular laboratories in the city has remained the same, but that fewer positive results were recorded.
“We test several patients. It’s just that our cases now are really low. We have to celebrate little achievements like that. I understand there is politics involved in this one but we are talking about the health and the lives of the people,” she said.
Schlosser believed that politicians don’t want to risk their constituents.
“I believe even if they have their own political agendas, and there are political events going on right now, I don’t think and I do believe that our leaders will not compromise the lives of the people just because of their political agenda,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)