IN A bid to exhaust all possible efforts against the dreaded Covid-19 disease, the Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Task Force sought the assistance of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Negros Occidental Chapter to address some problems that may be remedied by legal counsel.
In a meeting organized by City Administrator Em Ang and City Legal Officer lawyer Joselito Bayatan at the Bacolod City Government Center Friday, September 18, two main concerns were discussed: The untruthful data provided in Case Investigation Forms (CIFs) by individuals undergoing swab tests and the refusal of some Covid-19 positive patients to be placed in city-prescribed quarantine/isolation facilities.
"These make it more difficult for us to contain the spread of infections,” said Ang, who also sits as the executive director of the EOC Task Force.
The EOC Task Force, created by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, operates at the MassKara Hall of the Bacolod City Government Center 24/7 to maximize the synchronization and proper management of data that are later translated into health protocols and other relevant policies in the city, and for fieldwork assignments of the different action teams concerned.
The distribution and collection of CIFs form part of the data-gathering scheme of the EOC. However, it was discovered recently that some individuals have been dishonest in filling out the forms.
“Our frontliners in different fields have been working tirelessly to fight the spread of Covid-19. All this time, they have been confronted with people who refuse to cooperate and worse, who lie about their identity, address, telephone numbers or health condition, or who threaten them with lawsuits or physical harm, and deliberately violate our quarantine procedures and health protocols,” said Ang.
According to the city administrator, these misrepresentations in the CIFs jeopardize the EOC’s data management, which consequently fails the proper and immediate tracing, extraction, isolation and treating protocols for these people and their close contacts.
IBP-Negros Occidental president lawyer Edmundo Manlapao, Jr. said they are willing to help the EOC regarding this particular concern.
Manlapao enjoined other members of IBP-Negros Occidental to volunteer in giving legal assistance to commissioned personnel who conduct “extraction” of Covid-19 positive individuals who refuse to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine in the isolation facility provided by the Bacolod City Government.
Names and contact numbers of these volunteer lawyers will then be furnished to the Bacolod City Legal Office, headed by lawyer Joselito Bayatan, who invited the IBP local officers to the meeting.
“If legal issues arise during extraction of a Covid-19 positive individual, authorities involved in the operation may contact any lawyer whose name appears in the list for legal advice,” said Manlapao.
According to the IBP-Negros Occidental president, this is their “way of contributing to our government’s effort in stopping the spread of Covid-19.”
Joining Manlapao in the meeting were lawyers Gorgonio Ybanez and Marygold Lemoncito-Chuatico, public relations officer and director of IBP-Negros Occidental, respectively.
Also present were NIATF-Visayas chief implementer Major General (Retired) Mel Feliciano and his wife Mia; Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran - EOC Task Force assistant head; Councilor Lady Gles Pallen - president of Liga ng mga Barangay; City Health Officer Dr. Ma. Carmela Gensoli, other EOC Task Force heads, and executive assistants. (PR)