The Quezon City Government, through Executive Order No. 39 s-2020 issued recently by Mayor Joy Belmonte, has established a technical working group (TWG) to work with the National Government in their implementation of Oplan Kalinga and other similar programs. The objectives of the TWG are to enhance the City’s coordination with the concerned National Government Agencies and the Barangays, and to ensure that safeguards are in place prior to each implementation of the said National Government initiatives.

The Oplan Kalinga program, led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, seeks to provide isolation and quarantine facilities for possible and confirmed COVID-19 patients from Cities and Municipalities that can no longer provide the same for their constituents. The program uses hotels and other accommodation establishments in Quezon City and other Cities in Metro Manila for these purposes. Similar National Government efforts include those currently undertaken by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Health-Bureau of Quarantine, and the Department of Tourism catering to repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

However, it was noted that the programs have not been sufficiently coordinated, hence resulting in situations where patients have been monitored leaving the hotels and mingling with the community, thus increasing the possibility of infection.

In addition, the Quezon City government also discovered during various surprise inspections of hotels already utilized for these National Government programs that several of these hotels were found non-compliant with a number of City regulations.

Nonetheless, according to the Mayor, “Inspite of the situation, the Quezon City Government remains committed to support the National Government in its endeavors, provided that proper coordination and safeguards are in place to ensure the safety and well being of the people of Quezon City.” Hence the creation of this technical working group, which the Mayor herself will Chair.

The Assistant City Administrator for Operations will serve as Vice Chair of the TWG, which is tasked to inspect all Quezon City hotels that have been selected by the concerned National Government Agency, and determine if they are compliant with existing local guidelines. The TWG will also coordinate with regard to schedules as to when hotels in Quezon City will be utilized as isolation or quarantine facility for any of the aforementioned National Government programs.

In addition, the TWG is also tasked to review other arrangements such as security, transportation, food provision and other essential needs of the patients, infectious waste management and disinfection. The TWG will also monitor the conduct of final medical assessment and issuance of medical certificate before guest-patients can be “discharged” from their hotels.

The head of the City Tourism Office will serve as the TWG’s Action Officer while the members are the heads of the City Health Department, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Business Permit and Licensing Department, Department of Public Order and Safety, Task Force Transport and Traffic Management, Department of the Building Official, Task Force Solid Waste Management, City Legal Department, Public Employment and Services Office, Barangay and Community Relations Department, Public Affairs and Information Services Department, and the District Director of the Quezon City Police District.