To my Beloved NegOrenses:
It is quite unfortunate that amidst this COVID-19 pandemic, we are oftentimes bombarded with a lot of criticisms coming from the different sectors despite all the serious efforts made by all concerned government agencies to mitigate, contain, and respond to the problem at hand — the COVID-19 threat.
However, at this point in time, instead of dwelling on negativities, we, in the Provincial IATF-EID, will continue to look at the positive side since it is our task, our obligation, and our responsibility to address this problem for the safety of everyone.
We fully understand that some of these criticisms were not aimed to totally discredit the Provincial IATF-EID’s efforts, but maybe, they were the result of anxiety or impatience or maybe from a lack of understanding of the real situation that the province is in.
That is the reason why even with all of these callouts and criticisms, the Provincial IATF-EID still continues to do its job unfazed by the adversities caused by some, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is because these efforts have resulted to minimizing the impacts of the COVID pandemic in Negros Oriental. We consider these criticisms as challenges to further improve our overall response operations.
For the record, let me emphasize that following the guidleines and orders from the National IATF-EID is not a sign of weakness or submissiveness to a higher structure of authority. We simply are following the rules being a law-abiding local government unit.
But despite all the orders from the National IATF-EID for LGUs to strictly comply with and adhere to (referring to the national issuances), we also resorted to local initiatives, not to go against the national guidelines, but in aid to these guidelines in order to strike a balance between containing the COVID-19 problem and bringing to life our local economy.
It may be recalled that the recorded first positive COVID-19 case in Negros Oriental was in January, and we are proud to say that we were able to avoid a possible community transmission, which resulted to a zero-active positive case for more than 2 months.
Unfortunately, however, there came a time when our local initiatives were overruled by the National IATF-EID. As a result of such, the number of positive cases rose from 0 to 18, namely an OFW, some LSIs, and undocumented LSIs.
Fortunately, for us, the rise in number did not last long since we were able to again contain it through the efforts of the following: the national govenrment agencies; the provincial IATF-EID; the cities and municipalities; the barangays; the force multipliers; and the volunteers.
For now, we only have one active positive case, and this person is presently inside an isolation room, where the possible spread of the virus is unlikely.
Comparing our province to that of other provinces may be good at some point, but it will not solve our problem. Let it be known to everyone that we in the Provincial IATF-EID are also observing what other LGUs, including what our own cities and municipalities are doing, of which we can possibly replicate in crafting our own policies.
Please remember that after lifting the ECQ and placing Negros Oriental under GCQ, we introduced some measures in order to continue to lay down safety nets to protect and preserve the health and general welfare of the people. Here are some examples:
- The creation and use of the easy access pass;
- The number-coding scheme for tricycles;
- Allowing public transport within our borders; and
- Issuing Memorandum Order #35 setting the requirements for returning NegOrenses. This was even initially adopted by the National IATF-EID but was eventually taken. This resulted to the sudden surge of positive COVID-19 cases in the province.
Overall, the people in Negros Oriental, despite some doubts perpetrated by some, still continue to enjoy a safe environment because your local government units are working together following the national guidelines, while at the same time, introducing our local initiatives.
Rest assured that we will not lower our guard in addressing the problem. At the same time, we will also take into account the failing economy of the province, which affected all sectors, particularly, the poor.
The fact that we were able to bring down the number of cases to almost zero in a matter of 1 week (and to-date, we have continuously prevented the entry of the virus into the province), it is my belief that our policies are therefore effective.
These policies and directions are also supported by the mayors in spite of some political boundaries, but we all agreed “To Heal as One” — for the sake of providing a safe environment for our people.
So, come and join us.
I will continue to extend my hand of cooperation since we can not do it alone. We need your help, and your ideas will certainly help in our fight to flatten the curve.
ROEL R. DEGAMO
Governor, Negros Oriental
Province of Negros Oriental Official Facebook Page