COVID QUARANTINE: Barangays warned against collecting fees for passes

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas surrounds himself with an isolation panel made of wood and clear plastic at the City Hall while meeting with other officials on March 25, 2020. The city now has one COVID-19 case from Mandurriao district. (Arnold Almacen/CMO)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he will have barangay officials arrested and charged with extortion if they are found to be collecting fees from residents in exchange for the home quarantine passes.

Treñas said he received reports from barangay captains that some of their officials were collecting fees from residents.

“Liwaton ko nga quarantine cards are not for sale, sa aton nga barangay officials nga mag-exploit sa amu ni nga mga tiempo ka-intindi ko nga bisan kapartido pa kita, ipa-dakop ta kamo sa pulis ta kag i-lupot ta pa kamo karon sa carcel ta, for extortion,” Treñas said.

The home quarantine pass is provided by the barangay to each family. It allows one member to avail any of the essential goods and services which remain open during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
The policy is part of the Iloilo City Government’s move to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The mayor also reminded residents to cooperate with their barangay officials in observing ECQ policies and to refrain from leaving their homes for unnecessary purposes.

The third confirmed case of COVID-19 in Western Visayas is a 61-year-old female from Mandurriao district with a history of travel to Manila.

Treñas said the patient is from a subdivision in the district.

“Palihog lang sa aton pumulyo, gapangabay gid kita nga indi lang kita hagad gwa subong lalo na sa mga compromised, may diabetes, may COPD, may cancer, may heart [problems] kag mga dialysis patients. Liwaton ko gid tani nga may ara kita nga positive case sa [Iloilo City]. Palihog lang nga sundan inyo nga [barangay captains]. We need active participaton sang barangay officials. Indi ni mahapos nga problema ang ginaatubang ta bangud nga may positibo na kita, kag kinanglan ta magbinuligay,” Treñas said.



Treñas said the 61-year-old female patient is in stable condition and will recover very soon.

Treñas said the barangay where the patient resided will not be locked down yet, but residents will undergo contact tracing and sanitation and disinfection by the City Health Office, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

“Ang protocol naton kun isa pa lang ka kaso, wala pa na sang lockdown pero we’re going to sanitize and send everything that we can para makasiguardo man ta sa mga residente dira. I’ve already talked to the City Health and ara na sila dira,” Treñas said.



Treñas announced that part of the City’s protocol is that Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUM) who expire during the ECQ will be cremated.

“This is required by the DOH and the [Department of Interior and Local Government], the cremation of the bodies of the PUIs and PUMs,” Treñas said.

PUIs are persons with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 who have been previously exposed to confirmed cases and/or traveled to infected areas either here or abroad, while PUMs are persons who have no signs and symptoms but have travel history to infected areas and/or have had exposure to PUIs.



Meanwhile, Treñas also provided updates on other steps taken by the Iloilo City Government and the assistance they received.

The Iloilo City Government has placed an order for 800 personal protective equipment (PPE) and 2,500 test kits from South Korea, which Treñas says were accepted by the supplier over orders placed by the United States government.

The City of Gwangju in South Korea, Treñas said, is also looking into donating additional PPEs.

Treñas said new PPEs will be given by the DOH, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, and SM Group.

He likewise confirmed that he is in talks with iAmUPHi for the testing kits developed by the University of the Philippines (UP) National Institutes of Health, saying that once that the kits are approved, the City Government will buy them.

The PPEs and test kits will be distributed first to the Western Visayas Medical Center, then to the West Visayas State University Medical Center, and private hospitals in Iloilo City.

Treñas clarified that the goods distributed at the Jaro Gym came from the City Government and urged the barangays to have their development plans approved at the soonest time.

“Ang mga gina-release nga goods sa Jaro Gym, separate na sa iya sang barangays nga calamity fund. Dapat ang mga barangays preparado man sila kay may ila man na sila nga calamity fund. Ang mga barangay, ginapangabay ko gid, ipa-approve na ang inyo development plan, kay kun indi niyo man na ipa-aprubahan, indi niyo man magamit ang inyo calamity fund,” Treñas said.

Treñas said that the cash for work program for those who need work is already being developed with the barangays.

“Kuna ara na ang kwarta from the national government, maabot gid na. May ara na ta nga galakat nga [cash for work] bisan gamay lang para at least, mabuligan ang mga nadulaan sang trabaho,” Treñas said.

Treñas said the increased attention towards Iloilo City on social media in the past few days has helped ramp up assistance from the national government and the private sector.



Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, point person for the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Iloilo Central Elementary School (ICES) has been identified as the first isolation facility for PUIs and PUMs.

The 1,000-bed facility has been operating since Monday and has ample food and other supplies.

Fortuna said the old building of Ateneo De Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School will be used as the next isolation facility and other schools are currently being inspected as future isolation facilities.

These isolation facilities are for PUIs and PUMs with mild symptoms who cannot be quarantined effectively in their own homes and who are stranded in the city and cannot return to their own homes. These will also house PUIs with little to no co-morbidity while those with co-morbidities will be referred to the Western Visayas Sanitarium.

Fortuna said PUIs and PUMs who do not observe quarantine will also be placed in these isolation facilities.