Governing an entire city during a crisis may be difficult, but these local government officials show it takes heart and political will to properly serve the public in such trying times.
Most of us are getting anxious about the alarming surge of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in the country. While front line health workers are doing everything they can, we turn to the nation’s leaders in guiding us during the quarantine. Despite the swell of goodwill, we have heard and even witnessed stories of inadequate and inefficient distribution of food and medical supplies to residents. Worse, disorganized leadership exists among certain local government units. Citizens couldn’t help but call them out on social media for their lack of response to the needs of their constituents. When some did, it came out unbecoming of a professional public servant.
Thankfully, there are local government leaders who have stepped up and have been implementing efficient measures. Although at times, situations get difficult due to certain government-mandated rules, these leaders created opportunities to continue providing what their constituents need. They may only be doing their job as public servants but with their professionalism, humble attitude, and resourcefulness, they are certainly inspiring figures for other leaders.
Pasig City – Vico Sotto
The young mayor of Pasig made headlines for his active enforcement of initiatives for the city. Many are delighted for his quick thinking and understanding of the needs of his constituents. When the national government rejected his appeal to allow tricycles to operate, Vico promptly complied and utilized buses and e-jeeps instead. Partnering with Global Electric Transport (GET), the Pasig government received two COMET electric vehicles. These provide transport to health workers and city personnel within the area.
To allow people to shop for their much-needed produce, the city government launched the first ‘mobile market.’ Five trucks carrying fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, and other food products at affordable prices roam around the city. This is a parallel effort to the distribution of 400,000 food packs to the underprivileged residents. Vico has also led the use of drone technology to disinfect the city’s public places.
Iloilo City – Jerry Treñas
To add to the list of model cities, Iloilo is demonstrating its “all action” approach in the pandemic. Under Mayor Jerry’s leadership, they turned Iloilo City College into a temporary dorm for the health workers and utilized shuttles for their transport going to and from the hospital. He also launched over 240 community kitchens and one that is dedicated to providing meals to 1700 frontline workers.
To limit the spread of the virus, the City Health Office leads the nightly patrol to disinfect the city’s major public places. Among them is Jubilee Hall which is being used as the isolation facility of persons under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) in Iloilo. The Phinma University of Iloilo and Santa Maria Catholic School have offered their campus for use by the city government.
Jerry strongly advocates for mass-testing and has helped establish a local test hub in West Visayas Medical Center. It became the first test hub in Region 6 with 5000 test kits and more coming from the 2500 FDA-approved kits from South Korea. And recently, it has been reported that offenders of violating the mandated curfew are not arrested, but instead, made to watch a documentary about the ill effects of Covid-19.
RELATED READS: What Are Business Giants Doing During The COVID-19 Crisis?
San Manuel – Donya Tesoro
With Mayor Donya’s constant updates on social media, the residents of San Manuel, Tarlac remain aware of the municipality’s initiatives for this crisis. The young mayor has been active in distributing food products to households across the town. This includes sacks of rice, canned goods, and milk for infants aged 1-6 months. Bottles of alcohol, bars of soap, birth control supplies, and medicine for the elderly are also included in the relief goods package. With donations coming in, the mayor helped in distributing these products from McDonald’s Philippines and Megaworld and Alliance Group.
Valenzuela City – Rex Gatchalian
Taking cues from Mayor Vico’s efforts, Mayor Rex has launched mobile markets for the city. While Pasig used trucks, Valenzuela utilized e-tricycles to fit the narrow streets. Residents also received their food packs and food vouchers worth P500 to P700. When they began thanking the mayor, Gatchalian emphasized it came from taxpayers’ money, reiterating he was simply doing his job as a public servant.
The city government has also built modular tents and military cot beds in their isolation centers. When they worked on them, there were no existing confirmed patients yet but they wanted to be prepared. This only shows the mayor is taking precautions and with proper preparation, the city will be able to battle through the crisis.
Gapan City – Emeng Pascual
Mayor Emerson or more known as ‘Emeng,’ has been responsive to the needs of the city’s residents in Nueva Ecija. He led the distribution of food packages to the 34,000 households in the city. These packs consist of fresh eggs, bags of fresh produce, live chickens, and 50kg rice sacks for each family.
He also aims to donate P4.5 million from his total salary since taking a seat in the local government. The funds will go to assisting families in getting their necessities. For Gapan-based health workers, the mayor commits to shouldering their rental fees and daily meals as these medical front-liners work outside the city. Emeng initiated this assistance package to protect their families and the residents of Gapan from possible infection from the virus.
Alaminos City – Bryan Celeste
Another millennial mayor to add to the list, mayor Bryan of Pangasinan is lauded for his efforts during this ongoing pandemic. His first initiative is handing out relief goods to 25,000 families across Alaminos City. The goods include 730 kilos of fresh vegetables and 10 tons of fruits, coming from farmers struggling to sell their produce these days. The young mayor is also active in leading the disinfection activities of checkpoints and main establishments in the city. With all these continuous efforts, Bryan is certainly in the makings of an admirable local government official.
Manila City – Isko Moreno
The candid mayor swiftly stepped up with his initiatives together with Manila’s Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna. With her background in medicine, the doctor was able to impart her expertise and suggestions to Isko on their CODE: COVID-19, Manila City’s plan on containing and delaying the spread of the virus. At present, the city government distributed food packs for disenfranchised families. These came from their warehouse containing 105,600 canned goods, 81,600 bottled water, and 6600 packs of 3kg rice for each household.
To tend to patients, public schools have prepared an estimate of 5000 rooms. The mayor has also decreed certain hotels to freely accommodate health workers as they fight through the battle against the pandemic. Given the shortage of medical supplies, they invented an acetate protective face gear. It serves as temporary protective equipment as officials look for more ways to meet the demands.
Isko has used his affinity for social media in disseminating information. He has been doing Facebook live streams to update the public about the city government’s actions. Even Isko’s Facebook page has an automatic questionnaire on the message tab, asking the user for personal information and data in the event that they experience symptoms of the SARS-Cov-2. As of March 25, they have received over 36, 112 entries. Through these online ways, residents of Manila can be assured the public officials are properly responding to them in this crisis.
RELATED READS: Shared Isolation: Lessons From Quarantine Culture
Alfonso – Randy Salamat
The municipality of Alfonso in Cavite under the leadership of Mayor Randy has been receiving proper assistance as well. Replicating the mobile market of Vico, Randy launched his “Alfonso Cavite Palengke on Wheels” to help traders and residents purchase their food necessities. Similarly, he initiated two more tricycles called “Botika on Wheels” that sell medicines to encourage people to stay home and at the same time, allow them to buy medical supplies.
To help families grow their own produce, the municipality is giving away seedlings. This is supported by the weekly provision of 5kg of rice across the 16,500 households in Alfonso. They are also giving away Anti-Covid-19 kits containing face masks, alcohol, bar soaps, and disposable gloves. To further prevent the spread of the virus, the mayor ordered the installation of a full-body misting or disinfecting device at public places like Public Market and Municipal Hall.