Bunye: A frontliner's story

THE Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that has challenged all sectors of our society, especially the poor, the marginalized and, more so, the handicapped. But today's extraordinary circumstances have not prevented Jay Argana Espeleta, from rising to the occasion. Espeleta, a PWD who had suffered from polio, is a frontliner in Muntinlupa City's fight against Covid-19. The 46-year-old father serves as the Chief Medical Technologist in the Muntinlupa City Health Office (CHO), where he spearheads the city's swabbing and testing efforts.

Despite his physical challenges and limited mobility, he strives to commute to work, stepping out of the comfort of his home and risking the danger of getting the disease. On average, Espeleta interfaces with around 100 patients per day in the local swabbing center and in the barangays.

Espeleta has served at the CHO for the last 20 years. Last May 2019, he represented Muntinlupa City an international biosafety course. For Espeleta, it has always been public service above self. He recently lost both parents due to lingering illness. Last February, his father passed away just as Covid-19 was starting to spread in the country. Three months later, his mother also died when the targeted mass testing efforts of the city, which he supervises, was at its peak. He didn't have the time to properly mourn his parents as he chose to attend to strangers during the pandemic.

Asked why he continued to report to work despite his condition and personal circumstances, he replied: "It was my dream since I was young to serve the people whatever the cost. Despite my physical condition, I knew that it's my obligation and responsibility to help my fellow Muntinlupeños." Espeleta just has one request to Muntinlupeños: "We go to work for you. Please stay at home for us."

The city's response to Covid-19

Local government units have done a lot of heavy lifting in the fight against Covid-19. From their unique vantage points, let us hear it from Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi and Muntinlupa City Administrator Allan A. Cachuela.

Mayor Fresnedi: "Despite the availability of funds, one of the challenges that we face is managing the fear of our constituents in this pandemic. As local chief executive, I saw the need to face the challenge of making our city residents realize what it means to live in the 'new normal.' In the city government, we have realigned all our efforts and budget towards initiatives in curbing Covid-19 in Muntinlupa. We have constructed isolation facilities, purchased medicines and relief packs to aid our residents in the community quarantine, provided free transportation for medical workers and frontliners, among others. I appeal to all Muntinlupeñosto continually observe health protocols such as frequent hand-washing, wearing of face masks, and physical distancing."

City Administrator Cachuela: "The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time of crisis for everyone. All cities in Metro Manila, if not the whole country, are not prepared to financially, emotionally, and physically address this health crisis. Among the challenges is the abrupt change in lifestyle and behavioral change needed to cope with the new normal. The challenge for us is to prepare and help our people adjust to the new way of life, behavior, and culture. Here in Muntinlupa, we have mobilized all sectors, including the barangays to rise up to the challenge of curbing Covid-19 in the city. Everyone is involved in the fight against Covid-19."

Third community on lockdown

The city government has placed Block 35 Excess Lot in Soldiers' Hills Village in Barangay Putatan on a 15-day lockdown, starting June 23 until noon of July 7. The three roads leading to the community are now closed. The lockdown was imposed after the city health office reported 10 positive cases, coupled with a shortened "doubling period."

Block 35 Excess Lot is the third community in Muntinlupa to be put under extreme lockdown. Sitio Pagkakaisa Zone 3 Interior in Barangay Sucatwas under lockdown until Friday (June 26). Morning Breeze Homes in Barangay Alabang was under quarantine from June 3 to 16.

Curfew and market schedule

In a bid to manage the Covid-19 situation in the city despite the relaxation of quarantine measures, the local government of Muntinlupa is set to enforce a curfew and market schedule during the implementation of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi approved City Ordinance Nos. 2020-102 and 2020-103 imposing a city-wide curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. during the GCQ and MGCQ, and a market schedule regulating the operations of the Alabang Public Market, respectively.

Fresnedi said the initiative to implement a curfew and market schedule for residents aims to limit movements and interactions in public places which are hotspots for the transmission of Covid-19.

E-jeepneys for frontliners

Meanwhile, Muntinlupa City Administrator Cachuela thanked the management of Star 8 Green Technology Corporation for providing 10 e-jeepneys to service two routes in Muntinlupa to help stranded front-liners and government employees.

Covid 19 Dashboard

As of June 15, Muntinlupa City has 303 confirmed cases with 185 recoveries, 83 active cases, 35 reported deaths, 45 suspect cases, and 324 probable cases.

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