Marikina mayor: DOH took over 2 weeks to approve new quarantine sites

Dwight de Leon

PANDEMIC RESPONSE. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III inspects a quarantine facility on April 6, 2020.

File photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro says Filipinos are facing the same problems as when the health crisis first began in March 2020

Marikina Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro on Wednesday, March 31, chastised the Department of Health (DOH) for supposedly taking too long to accredit their two new COVID-19 quarantine facilities.

Marikina is among the cities in Metro Manila grappling with the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, with active cases topping 3,000 as of March 30, based on data from the DOH. Data from the Marikina city government said active infections were around 2,300.

Ngayon lang in-accredit ng DOH. E naghihintay ako…two weeks ago sa quarantine facility na ‘yan (The DOH only accredited the quarantine facilities now, but I waited two weeks),” Teodoro told Rappler in an interview on Wednesday.

The new quarantine facilities are a building at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina, and the Marikina Convention Center.

Teodoro said that the delay in accreditation forced the city government to implement “reverse isolation,” as current quarantine sites in the city are already overwhelmed by suspected COVID-19 cases.

Under Marikina’s “reverse isolation” strategy, individuals who tested negative for COVID-19 are removed from their household and instructed to stay at evacuation centers until their family members recover from the illness.

Para hindi na mahawa ang other members of the family, we are removing individuals who tested negative (We are removing individuals who tested negative from the household so they will not be infected by other members of the family who are COVID-19-positive),” Teodoro said.

Rappler reached out to the Department of Health for their response, but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.

‘Ningas cogon’ pandemic approach

One year into the pandemic, Teodoro decried how Filipinos are facing the same problems as when the health crisis first began in March 2020.

“We lack the proper health infrastructure. We cannot maintain a resilient and robust health care system in terms of bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, and more importantly, maintain a good system for non-COVID-19 patients,” Teodoro said.

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He stressed that the government should not leave a task half-done because the country is facing a public health emergency.

“I think [the problem] is systemic. We should be able to address it at the national, local level. Hindi puwedeng ningas cogon (We cannot leave a task half-done),” Teodoro said.

At the start of the pandemic, Teodoro was one of the local officials who did not hold back in criticizing DOH over its delays. In April 2020, he expressed frustration over the slow accreditation of a COVID-19 testing center in Marikina.

The Marikina Molecular Laboratory only received its license to operate on April 30, 2020, over a month after the city government and the DOH wrangled over numerous issues. –

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.