Bontoc steps up COVID measures, seeks national gov’t help for more testing

THE Bontoc local government has taken measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the mountain town, where 12 cases of the more contagious UK variant has been confirmed. Mayor Franklin C. Odsey, in a message posted on the town’s official Facebook page late Saturday night, listed six action points that are being implemented. These are: Putting the town’s four central barangays under strict quarantine; converting three hotels and two public schools as additional treatment and monitoring facilities; requesting the national government to help in setting up an additional testing site and kits, send auxiliary contact tracers and medical personnel; and provide additional relief goods for affected families; and coordinated with other local governments in Mountain Province for stricter border control.

“I know the news regarding the UK variant has come as a huge shock to everyone here in Bontoc, in Mountain Province, and in the whole country. After almost a year in varying levels of lockdown, people are already weary about COVID and all its negative effects… But we have to keep on fighting,” wrote the mayor from his home where he has been in isolation since testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on January 15. Of the 12 patients with the UK variant, six have already been tagged as recovered but still under quarantine, three are in hospital, and three are on home isolation. As of January 23, data from the Department of Health (DoH) Cordillera Administrative Region office show Mt. Province had a total of 581 cases, of which 274 are active, 305 recovered, and two died. Bontoc, the provincial capital, accounts for most of the total cases at over 340. — MSJ

Solon proposes to have ICT officer in every local gov’t to lead digital shift

A SENATOR is proposing to have an information and communication technology (ICT) officer in each local government who will be in charge of digital transformation, citing that only 30% of localities have started to digitize their system. There are over 1,715 local government units (LGUs) in the country, broken down into 1,488 towns, 146 cities, and 81 provinces. Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said the lack of digital systems affects the delivery of public services, which has become more pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic. “We witnessed how thousands of people had to go out of their homes and line up at designated areas in their respective LGUs to apply and receive their cash assistance. This was not only a labor-intensive and tedious process, but also created significant health risks on both the recipients and the government workers,” he said. Mr. Angara had filed Senate Bill No. 1943, the Local Information and Communications Technology Officer Act. The officer will be tasked to formulate and execute digitalization plans as well as develop information and communications programs and services for the LGU. “Digital transformation, I believe, requires that we rebuild our organizational structures, work processes, and cultural mindsets,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan