Duterte: Government work to go on despite rising COVID-19 cases

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte: Government work to go on despite rising COVID-19 cases
This August 19, 2020 photo shows the "mega contact-tracing center" in Valenzuela City.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Work in government should continue despite the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 infections, President Rodrigo Duterte said late Monday, even as he claimed that the risk of catching the virus is part of the job of state workers.

Duterte said he and his officials would continue to appear before the public through television to provide information about the pandemic.

"If you prohibit everybody from working, then the machinery of government will stop to grind. Then...what is the face of government at this time? We in the public (sector)... we do not want to do it, one is really for our safety, public health... Somebody has to communicate to the people what government is doing," Duterte said during a pre-recorded public address.

"Now, if we get compromised, that's part of the game. That's our job. If we catch COVID, then so be it. That's part of the job. Now, if I die, and then so be it," he added.

Under the current COVID-19 alert system, government offices are expected to operate but with allowance for remote work if needed. Under Alert Level 3, for example, remote work is allowed but at least 30% of workers must report on site.  

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said government offices are following protocols to ensure the delivery of services despite the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

He noted that the Office of the President has issued a memorandum circular requiring heads of agencies and departments to make sure that public services won't suffer despite the reduced on-site workforce.

"The president himself said government services must not be unhampered, must not suffer, must continue in light of and especially because of the rising cases ng COVID-19," Nograles said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Rules on remote work in government agencies

Under Memorandum Circular No. 94 issued by the Office of the President on January 7, the reduction of on-site workforce below the minimum provided in the alert level system and the temporary closure of premises will be regarded as extreme measures reserved for situations where the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace has become overwhelming and unmanageable.

The head of an agency considering to reduce its on-site workforce in or temporarily close its main office should submit to the head of the department exercising control or supervision over it or to which it is attached a request for clearance to do so.

Agencies or instrumentalities implementing a reduced on-site workforce or a temporary closure were directed to ensure that there would be manned hotlines to respond to the immediate concerns of their stakeholders. The memorandum also directed agencies to disinfect their offices after office hours or on weekends. 



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