The city government officially placed Puerto Princesa City under the “State of Calamity” on Friday, and issued tighter guidelines to strictly limit the movement of people as a strategy to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

In a special session called Friday, the City Council adopted Proclamation 929 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte and authorized Mayor Lucilo Bayron to access the P228 million unutilized City Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CDRRM) funds and the P189 million CDRRM funds for 2020.

This, on top of the P75 million budget recently allocated for COVID-19, which remains unused, according to Regina Cantillo, chief of City Budget Office (CBO).

P1,500 for each family

The city government is also set to give P1,500 in emergency financial assistance to all 62,000 families throughout the city.

Cantillo pointed out that the relief fund is for all households, regardless of social status, and is on top of the earlier relief goods provided to poor families enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the social welfare department.

“Gusto ni Mayor na bigyan ng P1,500 ang lahat ng 62,000 pamilya sa buong lungsod—mayaman man o mahirap,” she said.

Barangay treasurers, in coordination with the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) and CBO, will be tasked to dispense the P1,500 for each family in their respective communities.

The relief fund is expected to be released next week, as soon as the banks dispensed the said budget.

“Itong P1,500 to sustain bawat household for the next 10 to 15 days. Ito muna habang inaabangan natin ang development sa mga susunod na linggo,” said councilor Roy Ventura, chairman of Committee on Health of the City Council.

Curfew and clearance

Richard Ligad, chief of the City Information Office (CIO), in an aired live announcement on Facebook, announced tighter curfew hours from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m.

However, exempted from the curfew are uniformed personnel, health workers, utility workers, cargo or deliveries, and another similar type of “essential employees” and designated family members out on essential needs.

A “non-transferable” clearance will be distributed by each barangay specifically designating “only one family member” which may be allowed to go out to purchase goods, and basic supplies.

“Kung sino ang sa name sa pass sya lang pwede at kung ano ang naka name sa log book yon lang din,” Ligad clarified.

Test kits and quarantine facility

The city government is also considering a designated “quarantine area” for persons under investigation (PUI) and health workers to properly regulate those who may have contracted the disease.

“Meron na kaming nakausap na specific place. Lahat ng PUIs doon namin planong ilagay, pati na rin ‘yong mga health workers para maiwasan ang pagkalat kung sakali mang may magpositibo,” said Kent Roy Ventura, a nurse who represented the City Health Office (CHO) during the special session.

However, the said facility is yet to be disclosed as the plans are still under discussion.

Councilor Matthew Mendoza also said that a private party would be able to help purchase rapid diagnostic test kits from South Korea.

This, after the CDRRMO confirmed that an arranged flight to bring samples to Manila cost around P50,000 each flight.

The Philippine Medical Society Palawan Chapter has also communicated with scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) to explore the possibility of setting up a testing center in the city.

The MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital reported it has a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine which is used in COVID-19 confirmatory testing.

Employee Salary

Cantillo also confirmed that the City is now processing papers to update the salaries of its job-order and contract-of-service employees.

“‘Yong mga regular employees, their salaries were already credited to their ATMs. The CBO and City Accounting Office (CAO) is currently working on updating the salaries,” she said.

Cantillo said that the banks have also assured the city government that they have enough money to circulate and dispense throughout the COVID-19 crisis.