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Bontoc ramps up anti-virus manpower

BAGUIO CITY — The local government unit (LGU) of Bontoc, Mountain Province further strengthened its manpower working the frontlines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by hiring more nurses and deploying more personnel to man quarantine control points to ensure the strict adherence of locals and visitors to the health and safety protocols.

Bontoc had been tirelessly exploring avenues on how to further protect people living and working in this town and arrest the spread of the contagion by enforcing a triage and an “Umayam” (where you go) system for faster contract tracing, if necessary.

Umayam is an online registration platform geared primarily to help the municipality in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and aid medical workers and contact tracers should there be additional index cases in Bontoc.

It requires everyone who travels to and from Bontoc to register for the processing of their required medical clearance, travel permit or pass, and travel authority. The LGU has also recently tapped the assistance of the Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay officials in the four central barangays to augment the health and uniformed personnel in border monitoring.

Once registered to the system, one may proceed to secure a medical clearance, the basic requirement for all travel documents. The Office of the Municipal Treasurer is collecting a minimal fee of P50.00 for the Medical Clearance and another P50.00 for the Travel Permit. The collection of said fees is mandated in the Revised Revenue Code of Bontoc. For four months since the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in March, the Bontoc LGU waived the collection of fees in the issuance of travel documents.

The Bontoc LGU only started to collect fees sometime July in compliance with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2020-097 that allows LGU to impose reasonable fees and charges for medical certificates and other services.

Said circular authorizes “the regulation of business and activities as well as the delivery of services to the people through local government entails costs to the government, and equity requires that person/s benefitting from the services to share the cost of providing such services.”

Fees collected from the issuance of travel documents then go back to the community in the form of services and programs.

This include the wages of at least 12 nurses, one graduate of Doctor of Medicine, one graduate of Bachelor of Science and Medical Laboratory Science, and one midwife who augment the 28 permanent personnel of the Municipal Health Office responsible for the issuance of medical clearances, conduct of interviews and physical examinations to those travelling from Bontoc, conduct of Rapid Tests and Reverse Transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RT–PCR) testing and contact tracing.

Meanwhile, Mayor Franklin Odsey credited the minimal number of COVID-19 cases in Bontoc to the cooperation of the public and the collaboration of all stakeholders in the implementation of minimum health standards and the National Inter-Agency Task Force guidelines.

“I thank everyone for your compliance with the minimum health protocols to avoid and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Let us not be complacent and remain to adhere to minimum health standards. By doing so, we are not only protecting ourselves from the virus, but also our families and the community. Let us work as one in the fight against COVID-19,” he stated.

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