The Provincial Health Office (PHO) on Friday said it is the prerogative of the municipal government of Aborlan to institute measures it deems necessary in preventing the spread of coronavirus in their locality.
Dr. Mary Ann Navarro, speaking at the Alerto Palaweño online presser of the Provincial Information Office (PIO) on Thursday, said it was within Aborlan’s power to require those arriving at the municipality from areas like Puerto Princesa City where there are active cases of COVID-19 to take a bath at designated bathing facilities.
Dahil sa local government code ay may karapatan naman ang mga munisipyo to implement health protocols,” Navarro said.
The policy has earned mixed reactions from citizens since it was imposed early this week.
Navarro said those who are objecting to the measure should bring their concern to municipal officials concerned.
“Kaya kung may problema sila [‘yong public] ay pwede nilang tanungin pero ang final decision ay sa kanila pa rin. Technical assistance ng MHO. Kung sa thinking nila ay sobra ‘yon ay okay naman silang kausapin,” Navarro said.
Board member Cherry Pie Acosta, vice chair of the committee on health of the provincial board, has objected to the Aborlan measure, stating it is inconvenient and does not guarantee any protection to the individuals.
“Kung maaari ‘wag na sila umalis sa bahay hangga’t hindi naliligo kasi medyo hassle na ‘yon. Kung doon sa checkpoint baka doon pa ma-infect, gagamit kayo ng iisang tabo or ilang facility pa doon. Nag-iingat naman tayo, ‘di ba? Kasi ayaw din naman natin na makahawa din tayo. Daily routine lang and proper hygiene,” Acosta said.
Board member Sharon Abiog-Onda, on the other hand, praised the strategy adopted by the municipality but raised concern about the town’s capacity to enforce it properly.
“Maganda ang naisip nila kasi sobra pa ito doon sa nababanggit na handwashing. Pero hindi natin alam kung kaya ng facility nila, kung maayos ang mga nahahawakan doon. Kung nao-oobserve naman lahat ng protocols ay okay naman,” Onda said.
Municipal health officer (MHO) Dr. Fidel Salazar in a phone interview Thursday said that they have started the implementation of the protocol earlier this week following the executive order (EO) issued by Mayor Celsa Adier.
He said that all individuals coming from Puerto Princesa City which they considered as a hotspot for COVID-19 cases should undergo the protocol.
“Kapag pupunta ka dito sa Aborlan ay dapat kang maligo sa mga facility na nasa bawat barangay, hindi mismo sa checkpoint. Kung mag-stay ka lang dito [gagawin ‘yon] pero kung dadaan ka lang papuntang ibang munisipyo ay hindi na kailangan, kung may maiksing transaction ka lang tulad ng delivery ay hindi na rin gagawin ‘yon pero strictly monitored ka ng health workers,” he said.
“Hot shower ito, actually, simpleng proper hygiene protocol lang naman ito. Kung pagbabasehan natin ang mga sinasabi ng health experts ay dapat mag-disinfect muna tayo bago umuwi sa ating mga bahay,” Salazar said.
Salazar admitted that their implementation of the local protocol was difficult at the beginning.
“Unang araw medyo nahirapan silang gawin pero napaintindi naman natin sa mga kababayan natin lahat ‘yan na kailangan nilang gawin lalo na kasi ang Aborlan ay napakalapit lamang sa lungsod ng Puerto Princesa,” he said.
As of Thursday, Palawan has a total of 47 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases- 29 are active cases including Puerto Princesa City with eight cases, one death, and 17 recoveries.
(With reports from Ruil Alabi)