LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay governor Al Francis Bichara declared the province of Albay under a state of calamity on Tuesday, March 17.
Bichara’s declaration comes after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay (SPA), led by Vice Governor Grex Lagman, passed Resolution No. 00357-2020 – “Declaring the Entire Province of Albay Under a ‘State of Calamity’ Due to Coronavirus Disease.”
The declaration of a state of calamity, Bichara said, will help local government units, including barangay councils, to use calamity funds to help people affected by government quarantine measures. (READ: Albay requires self-quarantine for residents who traveled outside province, Bicol)
Meanwhile, Lagman said all local sanggunians in the 15 towns and 3 cities can declare a state of calamity in a regular or special session. “This is to authorize the local chief executives (LCEs) of said LGUs to access the calamity and or quick response funds,” he said. (READ: Legazpi City imposes curfew due to coronavirus)
Lagman added that “if calling a regular or special session for this purpose is impractical or if a quorum cannot be mustered because sanggunian members are on self-quarantine, the declaration of PRRD placing the entire Luzon island under Enhanced Community Quarantine is enough legal basis for LCE’s (in this case, governors and city and municipal mayors) to access the calamity and/or quick response funds.” (GUIDELINES: Luzon ‘enhanced community quarantine’)
Camalig’s state of calamity
On Tuesday morning, the local government of Camalig town also declared a state of calamity due to the coronavirus threat. Town Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo Jr. ordered the suspension of work in public and private offices and establishments on Tuesday, except for those under the employ of health and emergency response teams.
Baldo also ordered all non-food establishments – including resorts, bars, internet shops, billiard halls, and other non-essential businesses – to temporarily close and follow quarantine guidelines and help stem the coronavirus.
Exempted from the closure were gasoline stations, hardware stores, and pharmacies and drug stores.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol, meanwhile, readied P13.5 million worth of food packs to be placed on standby for families in Bicol affected by the lockdown
Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director in Bicol, food packs would be used as relief goods that can be distribued to families affected by quarantining.
Garcia said priority will be given to helping poor families in the region who have no budget to buy basic needs. The LGUs, according to Garcia, can support the affected communities for two weeks. They can also augment the LGUs upon request as they have a standby fund.
The DSWD official said that 30,000 food packs would be available and to be distributed to families of persons under investigation (PUIs), persons under monitoring (PUM), and communities under lockdown.
Each food pack to be given by social department in Bicol according to Garcia is good for two days for a family of five.
As of March 17, the DOH said the total number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 187, following the confirmation of 45 new cases of COVID-19. – Rappler.com
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