Evaluation of the Implementation of the Local Government Unit (LGU) Response Against the COVID-19 Pandemic in Selected Urban and Rural Communities in the Philippines
Rural and Urban LGUs
As the Philippines exhibits its unique and diverse geographical features, it is now well known that the COVID-19 response of the LGUs analyzed in this study contrasts in many ways. The following are the most significant differences between the rural and urban LGUs analyzed in this study:
1. Urban LGUs are highly urbanized areas. Hence, they have more accessibility when it comes to resources and infrastructures compared to the Rural LGUs. (See LGU Profiles A and C in Chapter II)
2. Rural LGUs’ barangays are mostly considered as GIDA. Which is claimed by them as an advantage since they are less populated, and houses have greater distance between each other. (See LGU Profiles B and D in Chapter II)
Despite the “strengths” of the rural and urban LGUs, they still experience hardships when it comes to controlling the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. Urban LGUs attributed these hardships to the following factors:
1. Densely populated areas have higher risk of spreading the virus
2. Uncooperative residents when it comes to following minimum standard health protocol.
Meanwhile, Rural LGUs cited the following factors that challenged their response to the pandemic:
1. “Balik Probinsya” Program further sped up the transmission of the virus from the cities into their municipalities.
2. Lack of surplus infrastructures (vacant buildings, hotels, etc) to be used as isolation facilities.
Aside from the unique strategies that the four LGUs devised to respond to the pandemic, it is also worth noting the effectiveness of several ordinances and policies that the national government imposed on the LGUs. The following protocols are the following:
1. Strict border controls and granular lockdowns
2. Conversion of existing buildings into isolation facilities
3. Extensive information dissemination
These strategies were also indicated in an article published by Talabis, et al. in BMC Public Health and shows that these were the “defining factors” that helped the LGUs to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. It suggested that these practices should be standardized to help the preparedness of the country in future public health emergencies.
Another study by Ocol et al. in NTRC Tax Research Journal regarding best practices of selected LGUs to Combat the COVID-19 Virus shows that tax reliefs , socio economic assistance programs, and contextually unique strategies were utilized by the LGUs to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic. As per the LGUs concerned in this study, all of them exhibited similar practices to combat the virus as well as help their constituents.
In evaluating the implementation of the response of the LGUs against the COVID-19 pandemic, certain challenges and gaps in their strategies became more observable. These gaps and challenges will be the basis of the recommendations on possible enhancements and points for improvement on the COVID-19 Response of the four LGUs and could also be utilized by other LGUs if it becomes necessary. The challenges arising from the LGUs analyzed in the study are the following:
1. Outdated and lack of contingency plan for infectious diseases
a. Lack of human resource and necessary facilities to treat patients
2. No purpose-built isolation facilities
3. “Inapplicability” of national protocols and ordinances in local settings
4. Misinformation regarding COVID-19 Pandemic
5. Uncooperative behavior of the people
Addressing these general challenges is crucial when it comes to combating the pandemic. Additionally, a similar study published in Journal of Global Health by Lau et. al. showed that poor public-health system as well as the spread of misinformation concerning the COVID-19 especially in the low-income setting proved to be an issue when it comes to responding to such public health crises
This project was conducted by:
CARLOS PRIMERO D. GUNDRAN, MD, MScDM, FPCEM
TEODORO J. HERBOSA, MD
ALFREDO FRANCISCO MAHAR A. LAGMAY, PhD
EMERITO JOSE A. FARAON, MD, MBA
NORIEL CHRISTOPHER C. TIGLAO, Dr. Eng
GENARO A. CUARESMA, MSc
DONNABEL TUBERA-PANES, MD, MPH, DIH
ADRIAN C. ALEJANDRO
EDWARD PAUL A. ABAD
MIRACLENE C. MOLTIO
GABRIEL JAY B. CAOENG
JACEL MAE Z. APARRI
The full report can be accessed through this link.