FOR numerous weeks now since the declaration of the National Health Emergency brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the DepEd Management Committee is meeting weekly via teleconferencing to discuss policies on various concerns of the biggest bureaucracy in the country. On April 16, they discussed the possible adjustments to the school opening for school year 2020-2021 in response to Covid-19. DepEd Secretary Leonor M. Briones earlier said that DepEd is conducting a nationwide consultation with stakeholders and education experts, while a Learning Continuity Plan on how to deliver education to learners is also being prepared in case the opening of classes gets pushed back.
Considered as the fuel to ignite all the plans, the Office of the Undersecretary of Finance headed by Usec. Annalyn Sevilla has been working with various financial institutions to put flesh to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and be felt by all personnel and teachers in the field vis-à-vis the other strands that also look into the various aspects of disciplines that will, in a way, put normalcy amid this period of uncertainty.
Each of the strands is tasked to put in place a Learning Continuity Plan in view of the "new normal" in the delivery of lessons that will vary in different places in the country.
In her report during the ManCom, Usec. Sevilla said that copies of DepEd letters to GSIS and Pagibig regarding Section 4.AA- Bayanihan Act clarifications and proposals on automatic refund/moratorium on remittance of loan payments included in the DepEd APDS was already delivered.
DepEd also coordinated with GSIS regarding this matter and we relayed the difficulty to get consensus to avail of a moratorium. Sevilla said they also explained the intent of law which is an automatic application of grace period (expanded as moratorium by GSIS).
With regard to the Pagibig fund, Usec. Sevilla added they received an information that Pagibig will issue a template for big companies, including DepEd, who want to avail of the moratorium program. In that template, Pagibig will give the employer the authority to apply on behalf of its employees who are actively employed and have existing loans. The target release for the template is on Monday, April 20, 2020.
Moreover, DepEd employee account management division/team is consolidating the responses of our accredited PLIs whether they choose option 1 (1-month moratorium); or option 2 (3-month moratorium). Her office will give update and post a list of all PLIs as soon as they validate and finalize the documents they receive. The deadline given for PLIs to respond is April 15. She also asked the field to give them some time for the office/unit concerned to process it appropriately.
Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) is proposing a three-phase approach to mitigate the social and economic impact of the Covid-19.
Phase 1A will involve clinical and medical response, the early detection and diagnosis, effective quarantine systems, effective management and treatment protocol, and research and epidemiological studies.
Phase 1B is for public health responses such as travel ban, promotion of proper hygiene, ban on crowded gatherings, school closures, work suspension, flexible work arrangements, and work continuance in essential sectors and Phase 1C will be for the short-term augmentation of the Philippines' health system capacity, such as establishing makeshift outpatient lconsultation facilities with specimen harvesting, and the increase of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and remote quarantine facilities (RQF).
This will be followed by Phase 2 which will rebuild consumer and business confidence.
Phase 3 will involve the resumption of a "new normal" state of economic activity more prepare for another possible pandemic.
This Corner hopes that within the next days or months to come that the situation will get better and as early as possible, everything will go back to normal though it will take a considerable time to happen.