Gov’t frontline services in Metro Manila to continue despite lockdown

Sofia Tomacruz

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Gov’t frontline services in Metro Manila to continue despite lockdown

LeAnne Jazul

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says skeletal workforces will be employed in government agencies to ensure services continue unhampered

MANILA, Philippines – Government agencies will continue to provide “frontline services” even if President Rodrigo Duterte suspended work in the executive branch in Metro Manila to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease called COVID-19.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the announcement on Friday, March 13, saying the government will continue to work despite social distancing measures implemented to combat the coronavirus. 

Yung frontline services po ng gobyerno ay tuloy-tuloy pa rin po (The government’s frontline services will continue),” Nograles said at a Malacañang briefing on the government’s response to the outbreak. 

Nograles said government agencies have been directed to implement skeletal staffing and consider telecommuting options for the duration of work suspension in Metro Manila which will last from Sunday, March 15 to April 12. 

The details of skelatal workforces – such as how many workers this will entail and who will be included – will depend on each agency, Nograles said. What’s imperative, he added, is that services will continue uninterrupted while measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are in place. 

What this includes: Under Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, “frontline services” is defined as the following: 

“The transactions between clients and government officers “involving applications for any privilege, right, permit, reward, license, concession, or for any modification, renewal, or extension of the enumerated applications and/or requests which are acted upon in the ordinary course of business of the agency or office concerned.”

Why this matters. Concerns over functions of government services were among the several questions raised after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered a briefing on government’s response to the coronavirus crisis on Thursday night, March 12. (READ: Questions Filipinos are asking about the coronavirus lockdown)

While work in the executive branches will be suspended, health and emergency will remain in full operation. 

Nograles urged the legislative and judicial branches to consider the same measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Private businesses, he added, should also consider flexible working arrangements for the safety of their workers. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.