Nov 212013
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to take over health operations of local government units in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

Memorandum Order No. 61, issued Nov. 18, directs the DOH “to temporarily assume direct supervision and control over health and sanitation operations of LGUs affected by Typhoon Yolanda if deemed necessary, based on an assessment of the needs and in consultation with such LGUs.”

At a press conference Thursday, Malacañang explained that the memo was issued so LGUs can focus on the disaster management.

“Yung DOH na muna ang aagapay sa kanila doon sa healthcare aspect. Yun lang po ang reason para doon,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) head Herminio Coloma Jr.

He said the DOH will augment the health resources of LGUs with its personnel, including medical practitioners and paramedics. The department will also handle health-related aid coming in from the private sector.

“DOH na po ang mago-orchestrate nito in order to enable the local governments to focus on relief and rehabilitation efforts,” Coloma said.

The order was issued on the same day Aquino said the LGU’s handling of Yolanda is subject on an investigation. The next day, however, the President said the probe was not a priority, citing the need for cooperation between LGUs and the national government.

Mobilize govt employees

Aside from this order, Aquino, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, also issued last Nov. 15 Memorandum Circular 57, which seeks to mobilize the country’s 1.3 million-strong bureaucracy to help in Yolanda relief efforts.

The circular directs all department secretaries and heads of agencies, bureaus, or government offices “to mobilize their respective officials and employees to assist in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

It said the heads are “accorded the discretion” to exempt their officials and employees from observing normal office hours and/or from performing their regular duties if they are working on relief efforts.

But Coloma said even before the circular, many government employees have already volunteered to assist in the relief efforts.

“This issuance [just] makes it possible for us to mobilize even more personnel for relief efforts,” he said.

“[Pero] siyempre po, dapat ay wala pong pagkaantala o pagkabinbin ng mga iba pang mahalagang serbisyo publiko,” Coloma added.

Message to volunteers

The Palace official, meanwhile, appealed for “understanding” from volunteers who seem to be having problems at the Villamor Airbase where the Oplan Yakap and Oplan Hatid were being implemented.

“Sana po ay maunawaan ng ating mga kababayan na maaari pong magkaroon ng ganitong mga hidwaan at hindi pagkakaunawaan. Ganunpaman, hinihingi po namin ang kanilang pag-unawa,” Coloma said.

“Wala naman pong pagnanais na sila ay i-pwera. Ang gusto po natin dito ang isang inclusive effort dahil mahalaga po ang ambag ng bawat isa. Kaya kung meron pong naligalig o nagkaroon ng sakit sa kalooban, humihingi po kami ng paumanhin sa kanila,” he added.

Coloma said Oplan Salubong was moved to Camp Aquinaldo because it is nearer to bus terminals in Cubao, which can be used by the displaced victims to go to where their relatives are.

The Palace official said volunteers can coordinate with the joint task force NCR command center in Camp Aguinaldo. — KBK, GMA News

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