Following the declaration of the State of Public Health Emergency, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the postponement of the conduct of the barangay assembly day to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“While the holding of the barangay assembly day is important, we need to think of the greater good and ensure the general welfare of our people,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.

Sa harap ng banta ng COVID-19, mas mainam na iwasan natin muna ang mga malakihang pagpupulong para hindi na dumami pa ang mga kaso ng COVID-19,” he added.

Barangay Assembly is a biannual meeting held on any Saturday and Sunday of March and October as mandated by Section 397 of the Local Government Code of 1991.

During such assemblies, the punong barangay delivers the State-of-the Barangay Address highlighting his/her accomplishments and plans and programs for the year, and discusses with his/her constituents the problems of the barangay and proposed solutions.

The DILG Chief said the increasing number of COVID-19 cases warrants decisive measures from the government such as postponing barangay assemblies and the cooperation of the public that would help avert a more serious scenario.

“Sa panahong ito, kailangan natin ng mabilisang aksyon at kooperasyon ng lahat ng sektor at publiko sa mga ipinapatupad na hakbang ng pamahalaan dahil ito naman ay para sa kapakanan din nating lahat,” said Año.

The DILG had earlier directed Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) to suspend or postpone all mass gatherings as a social-distancing measure as recommended by the Department of Health Expert Advisory Group to lower the number of people exposed to the virus, lower risk of transmission per contact, and to lower the average viral load.

Año has also enjoined barangays in Metro Manila to activate their Local COVID-19 Task Forces (LCTFs) to aid in monitoring and preventing the spread of the disease in the communities.

The LCTF shall direct the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and Local City Health Office, upon receiving the referrals from the DOH-Emergency Operations Center, to coordinate directly with, and convey or transport, the symptomatic persons to the nearest DOH referral facility for COVID-19 testing.

The DILG chief added that at the DOH referral facility, the symptomatic persons will immediately undergo triage which will determine if the person is a severe case or a mild case. If found to be mild cases, the ambulance will be directed to bring the patient confirmed as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) to the nearest DOH-designated hospital for treatment and isolation or will be admitted, if found to be severe cases.

The DILG and the LGUs will strictly enforce the home quarantine measures for those suspected of having contracted the virus, Año said.

Meanwhile, barangays are also directed to mobilize their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTHs) to help the government monitor and contain the virus. The DILG chief revealed that 60.51% or 25,411 barangays have already organized their BHERTs, which can aid in controlling further community transmissions of COVID-19 in the barangays.

Part of the BHERTs’ responsibility is to monitor the community through home visitation of arriving passengers from a coronavirus-infected country within the locality, ensuring that all residents are accounted for.