2021 a tough year, a year for cooperation -Alvarez

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TAGUM CITY — If this year is filled with challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, next year will be a tough year for everyone given the economic crunch that 2020 has experienced.  This was the view of Davao del Norte First District Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez.

In an interview with Newsline, Alvarez said if we have a problem this year, it will intensify next year by “losing more jobs, business going down, and no vaccine as yet, this is really a problem next year”.

For the year, he said, even if there is a problem, people still have the capacity to spend because of their savings “but given the present situation, their savings are depleted – so next year will surely be a tough year for everyone and the government just have to find ways to respond to this”.

“If you look at the equation, personally- I am a bit apprehensive, we have this problem now, but the magnitude will stretch next year, the effect will be more deliberate- and God forbid- crime is another issue that the authorities must look into if this prevailing condition continues,” he added.

The effect of joblessness, economic crunch, and poverty incidence “There will be a possible surge of crime-petty thievery, looting, and other ways because people need to survive,” he added.

Government intervention

Anticipating these problems, Alvarez also said that the local chief executive has a big role to play “to make sure that poverty can be addressed to cushion the economic impact of all these conditions”.

Every  LGUs, Alvarez said, need to prepare the impact of the crisis.

As a member of the legislative branch of government, he said, “I am always here for the people, I am here to support every endeavor and plans of President Rodrigo Duterte. If he will ask Congress to enact a law that will respond to the needs of the people-especially on the economic mechanism to pump prime the economy- I will always support it, because our people need government support”.

Should the President certify one bill as urgent, “I will be there, I will support it, we need to collaborate for the people and we need to act together given the magnitude of this problem,” he added.

“Agriculture is one of the key components for recovery and poverty alleviation. The agricultural sector must be strengthened, people needs to eat, farmers need to produce more and every household should have their own way of helping the home economy,” he emphasized.

Looking at the magnitude of the economic impact of the pandemic, Alvarez said “Let us strengthen the local economy, the future is based on the capacity of the local economic players”.

Challenge and opportunity distribution

In the current situation, people are concentrated on the urban centers, the place where coronavirus-19 is high, Alvarez noted, “Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities are hard-hit, the effort to contain the contamination is a big challenge to every LGU and people need to cooperate and support their locality”.

“We need to distribute the people, we need to distribute the challenge to every LGU, send people to the provinces and distribute the opportunities amongst people, we need to work it out together, he emphasized.

The Balilk Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program according to Alvarez is good but it needs to be strengthened and modalities clearly defined.

hundreds of locally stranded individuals are now on their way home to Davao region via 25 buses provided by the government.-DOTr photo

The concept of Balik Probinsya is good, according to Alvarez “But there is a need to capacitate them-capacitate those who are returning and capacitate the LGU because not all locality have the capacity to accumulate and they are not ready given the resources they have”.

Some LGUs are small but their land resource is big. In this case, Alvarez said, “They need intervention to realize the program and to deliver what the government desires”.

He cited an instance where a town was not ready to accept returning residents,  which caused panic in the preparation of the isolation facility, and in the preparation of basic components to house a returning individual.

The modalities and mechanism in accepting LSIs and ROFs must be clearly defined saying some LGUG are afraid to accept their own constituent for fear that one is positive of COVID-19.

“There are cases when one gets a negative result of their rapid test but when a swab test is taken they turn out positive of the virus,” he explained.

But the LGUs who were ready, easily handled the situation by imposing a strict 14-days mandatory isolation outside their houses, but still, he said, there are LGUs who have yet to define the isolation facility “and the problems start there”.

 Collaboration among agencies

The challenges brought about by COVID-19, from economic to psychological impact must be responded in such a way that it will provide a meaningful response to the people and it needs collaboration among government agencies from the top to bottom.

Undersecretary Luzviminda Ilagan of the Department of Social Services says that agencies must talk on the modalities and approaches, there must be strong coordination among players, she added.

The family, the community, the health department, the social services, the barangays, and every stakeholder has a role to play for everyone to cooperate and participate in a given challenge.

“The work must not be a burden by the President alone. The chief executive needs team players on the ground to implement what has been identified and defined as a tool for survival and the means to cope up,” he added. –Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline

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