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DILG chief downplays critics: ‘We just keep on working’

Interior and Local Government Secretary chief Eduardo Año (File photo)

MANILA – Critics will always have their say whether the government heightens or lowers the Covid-19 alert levels as this is part of the pitfalls of democracy, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary chief Eduardo Año said on Sunday.

Año made the statement when asked to comment after the National Capital Region had been placed under the more relaxed Alert Level 2 classification, prompting more people to gather outside, particularly in the malls.

“No matter what we do, there will always be critics and would always find wrong in any positive solutions, initiatives or policies. This is a democratic country. We just keep on working and do what is good for our country and the people,’’ Año told the media.

He said the government will continue to strictly implement the health protocols and standards against Covid-19 despite the decreasing number of active cases in the country.

“Remember that when we started last year, we don’t have any hospital or ICU bed for Covid and we don’t have a single vaccine. Now we have all of those health care facilities and vaccines; hence we can live with the virus and open our economies. Still, we will implement the health protocols and standards strictly,” he said.

Año said although minors are allowed in the malls, they should be accompanied by their parents or guardians regardless of vaccination status.

“They may also eat either alfresco or indoors subject to the prescribed seating capacity. LGUs (local government units) may impose additional restrictions,’’ he added.

He assured the increase police visibility “in all potential spots of convergence especially during the Christmas season.’’

Even if Metro Manila has attained a satisfactory vaccination rate of the eligible population, Año stressed that “we must still adhere to the health protocols and comply with the minimum health standards.’’

Earlier, Año admitted the possibility of a Covid-19 spike with the relaxed restrictions but assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the LGUs will enforce the minimum public standards and prevent mass gatherings.

With the National Capital Region (NCR) attaining more than 80 percent vaccination rate for eligible population, Año noted that the alert level review and assessment is done every two weeks with the LGUs having the authority to place any area under granular lockdowns.

“Kaya madali pa din i-address kapag may (Covid-19) surge o community transmission (That is why it is easy to address if there is a surge or community transmission),’’ he said.

Año said there are still “gatekeeping factors” that the LGUs should impose like the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) + Vaccination strategy.

Ready for more relax alert level

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said police forces are ready to adjust now that Metro Manila has been placed under more relaxed Alert Level 2 from Nov. 5 to 21.

“The PNP has been long ready for this eventuality,” Eleazar said in a statement.

With the businesses and industries allowed to operate within 50 to 70 percent of their capacity, Eleazar said the PNP coordinated with the establishment owners and local government units to ensure that minimum public health protocols are complied with.

He believed that alert level classification would go down further if the public continues to observe the necessary safety and health protocols.

Eleazar earlier directed police regional offices outside Metro Manila to prepare for the nationwide enforcement of Alert Level System beginning Dec. 1.

“I am reminding all our police officers, especially those in the regions, to maintain tight security so that criminal elements could not take advantage of the lowering of alert levels,” he said. (PNA)

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