INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Monday, March 30, that local government officials are not authorized to order the closure or lockdown of a health facility with a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patient.
"Hindi pupuwede 'yun. May mga procedures naman tayo kung papaano ihahandle 'yung isang PUI (person under investigation) o positive Covid patient. 'Yan ay global problem, hindi pupuwede 'yung 'babakuran namin ito,'" Año said in a radio interview.
"Lalo ngayon kailangan natin ang lahat ng Level 2, Level 3 hospitals, may atas ang DOH (Department of Health) na ready silang tumanggap ng Covid patients," he added.
Año made the statement after Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. in Pampanga reportedly directed the closure and lockdown of a city hospital after it admitted a confirmed Covid-19 patient as well as three persons under investigation who came from Quezon City.
The DILG chief said a local government executive opposed to the policies of a certain hospital should just report the matter to the proper authorities.
He said the DILG had discussed the matter with Lazatin and the hospital has since resumed its operations.
Año called on the public and the local government units to help each other in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Let us accept the fact na this is our problem now. This is nationwide, hindi mo alam kung sino ang carrier kaya kailangan mag-stay at home. Pero kung meron diyang nangangailangan na pasyente, haharapin natin 'yan at tutulungan natin ‘yan. This is our civic obligation or responsibility," he said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary said concerned government agencies including the DILG is in the process of identifying provinces, municipalities and barangays which may be used as isolation sites for infected patients who are experiencing mild symptoms.
Tasked to inspect the potential sites is the task group on resource management and logistics led by the Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
The Makati City earlier converted a hotel as an isolation facility for patients under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs).
In San Juan City, the San Juan City Science High School is being used as an isolation area. It can house 100 individuals. (SunStar Philippines)