Bataan builds a bigger processing facility, updates border protocols in relation to COVID-19 resilience efforts

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Bataan Governor Albert S. Garcia spoke about the provincial government’s effort to build a bigger and more comprehensive centralized processing facility and to update border control protocols in the province to address the rising number of COVID-19 positive cases in Bataan. Speaking at a conference organized by the National Resilience Council (NRC) and Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) last Wednesday, July 22, Gov. Garcia said the new COVID-19 processing facility located at the compound of the 1Bataan Command Center in Orani, will be completed in two months. He has given priority to this endeavor to address the mounting challenges being posed to the province by the influx of Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI), as well as the situation on Authorised Person Outside of Residence (APOR) that resulted in the drastic increase of positive cases.

The governor said, “this facility will be the first stop for all those who are entering the province. They will be processed here, their data recorded, swabbed and tested, and while waiting for the results, they will be comfortably isolated in rooms that we will provide for them to make sure that we prevent contamination. To add to that, Gov. Garcia said “we will implement border control similar to what the City of Baguio is doing. There will be checkpoints and proper identification of returning residents. We are currently working on a system that will make it easier for people to register their data through online means or maybe through the use of a bar code to make things more efficient. “We need to do these because we can see the trend that what happened in March, April and May is happening again today all over the country. At the same time, we understand that we have to keep the economy moving forward with zero or minimal local transmission if possible,” he explained.

During the conference, Gov. Garcia also spoke of the best practices and initiatives that Bataan was able to undertake during the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the prevention of a full-blown outbreak in the province, high recovery rate and low mortality rate, a reversal of an overwhelmed health care system, the establishment of local testing capability, efficient contact tracing conducted through the creation of Local Contact-Tracing Teams (LCTT).

Gov. Garcia also cited the creation of a unified and smart system of data collection, higher appreciation, and support for front liners and efficient distribution of adequate food supply for a longer period of time. In moving forward, the governor underscored his dream of alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable sector in the province. He said, “the key is to uproot most of them, informal dwellers, from their high-risk, low-income places of residences and bring them to high-opportunity dwellings near economic zones and other places of work opportunities and still be able to provide their families with basic social security needs.” Gov. Garcia said the provincial government of Bataan has been seeing the efficiency of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) endeavors and the housing program instituted is one of the great showcases of this endeavor.

Through PPP, Bataan is able to build housing projects where the workers’ families could also get the provision of education, health and recreation close by. Bataan’s PPP has always been prolific pre-COVID and now that the economy has opened, Gov. Garcia said these projects are now waiting for partnerships as the government has already acquired properties for this purpose. “This way, we slowly upgrade their economic status from poverty to working class to middle class,” Gov. Abet concluded. |SHIRLEY PIZARRO

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