Only 15,000 contact tracers to be rehired

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Only 15,000 contact tracers or a third of the 50,000 employed last year will be rehired due to budget constraints.

Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, spokesman for the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), said a P1.9-billion budget was approved for the hiring of contact tracers this year.

“Much as we would like to continue the services of all the 50,000 hired in 2020, we need to have a more rational number... and work within the available budget allotted to the department... Only 15,000 will be re-hired under a six-month contract while we wait for the release of additional funds,”  Malaya said.

At least P1.4 billion will be taken from the unreleased balance with the extension of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and the P500 million from this year’s national budget.

The DILG ordered its field offices and local government units to conduct assess the performance of the contact tracers to select those who effectively and efficiently performed their tasks.

The department said it would prioritize the rehiring of contact tracers in the most affected regions, such as Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Central Visayas. The three regions will get over a third or around 5,300 contact tracers this year.

Malaya stressed the need to sustain contact tracing after the new and more contagious COVID-19 variant had been detected in the country.                                   

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