Cebu City – The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) is calling for the institutionalization of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in various local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas.
During the culmination of the 2-day Train The Trainer (T3) program in Bacolod City held Friday last week, OPAV Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales urged LGUs to adopt the EOC concept, which first set up in Cebu City.
“We are cascading the concept of EOC to where it is most needed,” Asec Gonzales said. “The EOC in Cebu was created to strengthen our management of the COVID response. So, we are bringing this EOC concept to other provinces in Visayas.”
He then urged the T3 participants that they should be at the forefront of implementing the EOC in their localities.
Concerned over the rising COVID-19 cases in the Visayas, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, had requested IATF Visayas Chief Implementer retired M/Gen. Melquiades Feliciano to share the EOC concept with the LGUs in Western Visayas.
Gen. Feliciano was the one who established the EOC in Cebu City, which he also encouraged to be set up in other LGUs in Cebu.
“The OPAV, in partnership with the IATF, has been extending technical assistance to our LGUs in the Visayas to better equip them when it comes to their COVID response measures,” said Secretary Dino. “We are encouraging them to implement this concept, which has worked well in managing the health crisis in Cebu City.”
He also stressed that the adoption of the EOC will help LGUs better align their efforts in addressing the possible surge of COVID-19 cases. “We are bringing this good practice of having a centralized COVID management system to capacitate our LGUs in their response efforts,” Dino said.
The ultimate goal of the T3 program is to establish EOCs in all provinces in Panay and Western Visayas as a contingency plan to better manage the COVID-19 crisis in these areas, he explained.
At least eight participants from the provinces of Aklan and Capiz, and the Department of Health and Office of the Civil Defense in Region 6 underwent the training, led by Gen. Feliciano.
The participants included provincial health officers, health emergency management and ICS staff, and surveillance officers. They will echo the hands-on training they completed with their respective LGUs.
The EOC strategy calls for the coordinated response against the COVID-19. This is done by consolidating efforts, including contact tracing and testing protocol. It also aims to gather accurate and timely data for a more efficient referral system among LGUs in the Visayas.
The local government of Bacolod City created its EOC early September upon the recommendation of Gen. Feliciano, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) chief implementer for the Visayas.
“The OPAV has been extending its support and assistance to the COVID-19 response not only in Cebu but the whole Visayas,” Feliciano said.
“We shared these experiences and practices we implemented in Cebu for you to be part of the whole effort to address the COVID-19 crisis in your respective places,” the IATF official told the T3 trainees.
Feliciano also called for a culture of commitment among those who will be instrumental in the establishment of EOCs in various Visayas LGUs.
“Passion, trust and confidence are important factors in the operation of EOC,” he said.
Feliciano said the OPAV will be working closely with those who underwent the training to ensure the eventual implementation of the EOC in their respective areas.
Gonzales said the proven success of having an EOC in Cebu City should help other LGUs in the region adopt a better COVID management system through this centralized hub.
It can be recalled that last July, President Rodrigo Duterte directed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Gen. Feliciano to intervene and oversee Cebu City’s outbreak response when a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city led the national government to revert its quarantine status back to enhanced community quarantine.
Cebu City has since downgraded to a more relaxed modified general community quarantine for more than a month now.The Cebu City EOC continues its work in monitoring and controlling the spread of the COVID-19 in the city.