northern mindanao

Zubiri donates CoVID-19 test kits to NMMC, JRBGH

April 20, 2020

IN aid of the country's continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri has set his sights beyond Metro Manila, donating 6,000 COVID-19 antibody diagnostic kits to hospitals in his home region of Mindanao.   Two thousand kits will go to Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon; 2,000 kits to Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental; 1,000 kits to Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao, Surigao del Norte and 1,000 kits to Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). All are set to receive the donations on the 20th and 21st of April.   Zubiri also donated separately a total of 2,200 rapid testing kits to the Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Northern Mindanao and at JR Borja General Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.   This is the second wave of COVID-19 test kit donations made by Zubiri, after he spearheaded a donation of an equal number of PCR test kits to the Philippine General Hospital through the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health earlier this month.   "Kung sa Metro Manila lang tayo mag-focus, hindi natin matatalo itong COVID," Zubiri insisted. "The longer we hold other regions back from massive testing, the higher the chances that the virus will continue to spread there, evern with community quarantine. We can't afford for that to happen. Dapat maagapan natin as soon as possible."   The test kits to be donated are the rapid antibody test kits recently promoted by President Duterte during his weekly briefings. These kits can be used without testing laboratories.   "I know the gold standard of testing for COVID-19 are the PCR test kits, like those we donated to PGH. But in the absence of accredited laboratories across the country, these rapid test kits will have to do for now," Zubiri said.   "I am prioritizing these areas of Mindanao, as the DOH has yet to accredit a single testing lab in these areas. This is one of my biggest frustrations, as there is only one accredited laboratory in Mindanao, located in Davao City and nowhere else at the moment. The DOH should cut the bureaucratic red tape and at least focus on regional laboratories and testing centers.   While Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, holds majority of the country's COVID-19 cases so far, Mindanao has not been spared from the virus. There have been over one hundred and thirty (130) positive cases in Mindanao as of writing, an alarming number given the limited testing capacity in the region so far.   Zubiri, who himself had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has recovered from it, voiced sympathy for health care workers in Mindanao: "So many nurses, doctors, hospital workers back home have reached out to me, asking if there's a way we can help them. Nasa frontlines sila araw-araw, risking their own wellbeing for us, and yet they can't get tested because of a shortage of kits. It's disheartening. I hope some of the test kits that we're sending out can be allocated for our health workers, so they can continue with their noble duty to our people."   "We really need nationwide testing. That's the only way we can properly identify the scope of this virus, and the only way we can begin to eliminate it."

COVID patient in Misamis Occidental dies

April 17, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- The Inter-Agency Task Force COVID-19 in Misamis Occidental province announced Thursday that a male COVID patient from Tudela town died Wednesday evening, April 15.  Patient (PH) 4085 was admitted on March 27 to the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Medical Center in Ozamiz City after he had a check-up in a private clinic in the province last March 24 due to cough and difficulty of breathing.  He had a travel history to Cebu City according to Department of Health X Regional Director Dr. Adriano Subaan in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.  Misamis Occidental Governor Philip Tan on his social media post said the 69-year old was on his 11th day after his COVID positive result was revealed on April 4.  “He was fine when I checked on him at 6pm last night (April 15). Wala siya hilanat (he had no fever) and his x-ray results were improving,” Tan said.  “Based on COVID-19 experience worldwide, a patient with COVID-19 usually gets worst on day 9 to 10 but he was doing well before he died on his sleep. Doctors suspect he died of cardiac arrest and not because of respiratory problems which is usually the cause of death for COVID patients,” he added.  The patient was swabbed to determine if he was still positive at the time of his death according to the governor.  Following the health protocol of the DOH, the cadaver was immediately buried Thursday.  “His wife was okay. She is in a home quarantine alone,” Tan said.  On April 10, Tan posted on social media that the COVID patient from Jimenez Town tested negative on his repeat confirmatory test and was discharged a day after.

CCIFII Rolling Stores enhance ECQ in Iligan

April 17, 2020

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation of Iligan, Inc. has launched its rolling stores in a bid to enhance the effectiveness of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Iligan City. As defined by the Iligan Chamber, a Rolling Store is a “One-Stop-Shop” where consumers can buy their groceries, vegetables, fish and meat items within their barangays without going to public and supermarkets to lessen their risks of infection from the COVID-19 coronavirus. When Iligan Mayor Celso G. Regencia declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine throughout Iligan City from March 20 to April 30, 2020, it raised the issue of how social distancing could be enhanced with only two public markets serving Iligan City: Tambo and Wet Market in the City proper. It also made life more difficult for people who did not have private transportation and had lacking access to buy their daily needs such as the dry goods, vegetables and fruits, meats and other household needs. Rolling Stores to the rescue On April 7, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce launched its Rolling Stores Project in coordination with the Local Government Units (LGUs), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), City Agriculture Office, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other stakeholders to address the issues of social distancing, encouraging to stay home indoors and assisting certain sectors to mitigate the big impact of the ECQ in Iligan City.  “We have 10 rolling stores every day, they have different schedules and diff barangays to cater to,” said Ms. Reggie D. Punongbayan, CCIFII President. “So far, the rolling stores have already covered about 90 percent or 40 of the city’s 44 barangays.” “We have been consistently been urging buyers to strictly comply with the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Buyers should provide their own ecobags, prepare their shopping lists in advance to avoid delays, always wear face masks and maintain social distancing in accordance with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2020, R.A. 11469,” she stressed. To get the stores rolling, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce requested the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President to identify which barangays would be interested to participate in the project. “The barangays were divided into clusters composed of various puroks,” Punongbayan explained. “The identified barangay will be divided into sectors with designated spaces where our Rolling Store will standby on agreed days and times, assuring that all barangay residents can access the rolling store at least two or three times a week.” Once the designated spaces for the rolling store had been identified, barangay officials assisted in securing the area by marshalling buyers to assure the proper social distancing and health protocols are observed during the 4-5 hours the rolling store would be selling in a barangay. Opportunities in adversity The City Agriculture Office (CAO) has been supplying at least ten (10) basic agricultural products from local farmers which are delivered to the City Slaughterhouse where the CAO is located, and where participating entrepreneurs get their orders repacked based on their needs. “We collaborated with chamber members who were interested to operate the rolling stores in the 3-4 barangays assigned to them,” Punongbayan said. “A Halal operator has also been tapped to serve our Muslim communities.”  “The fish, meat, groceries, rice, and dried fishes which are considered basic priority needs of our people are taken from our selected participating outlet members arranged by CCIFII to get the best prices which comply the suggested retail prices set by Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry under the present price freeze of basic and prime commodities,” she added.   To further keep prices down, the chamber coordinated with the Department of Agriculture which coordinated with local farmers to have their produce delivered to a “bagsakan” where RS operators buy directly from them, and where meat products like pork and chicken can also be likewise bought direct from piggery and poultry operators. In addition, grocery store owners give wholesale price for canned goods and other grocery items to RS operators while donors shoulder like DPWH and the CAO donated gasoline allowance of 10 liters twice a week for each RS operator. Public-Private Partnership Through the Rolling Stores Project, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce aims to assist the local and national government enhance health measures such as social distancing, help curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number and distance residents need to travel to purchase their daily needs, keep down the prices of basic and prime commodities, and further expand opportunities for synergy and cooperation between the public and private sectors. (RMB)  

Marawi Suicide Squad back in action vs. COVID-19

April 16, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- In 2017, they risked their lives dodging bullets to save those trapped inside the city by the crossfires.  Today, they brave an unseen enemy to provide a decent burial for the dead and spare the rest of the population from infection.  They are employees of Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).  On March 17, they had their first burial of a COVID-19 patient who died on that same day in Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City.  Amer Hussein Lucman, head of Lanao del Sur PDRRMO, said they have mixed emotions when they were told to bury the dead at Maqbarra Public Provincial Cemetery in Barangay Papandayan, Caniogan.  Maqbarra is the same cemetery where more than 200 dead unidentified persons retrieved from the former main battle area during the Marawi siege in 2017.  Lucman’s group was the same group, called Suicide Squad, who retrieved the cadavers while the battle was ragng to bury them. .  “We experienced mixed emotions because at first, we were told that the PDRRMO is there only to support, and that they (Marawi City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office) are supposed to lead but the APMC told us no one wanted to handle the deceased. We are ready anytime because we, in the PDRRMO, are here to help,” Lucman said.  Two immediate family members, with the help of two hospital personnel, helped carry the cadaver from the hospital’s isolation room to the vehicle waiting at the back of the hospital.  “Noong malapit na sa vehicle, doon na kami nag take over, hinawakan na ng mga tao ko ang cadaver. We tried our very best to carry the cadaver kasi alam mo naman ang belief namin sa Islam, dinahan dahan namin ang pag-carry,” Lucman said.  (When the cadaver was near the vehicle, we took over, my colleagues held the cadaver. We tried all our very best to carry the cadav because you know our belief in Islam, we carry the cadaver carefully with respect.)  All on the team were wearing protective suits which were all later properly disposed off according to the protocol mandated by the Department of Health (DOH).  Lucman said it was his first time to assist in an Islamic burial so unlike the previous ones he attended.   While he and his colleagues tried to make the burial solemn given the unusual circumstances, they just smiled and tried to make light of it while wearing their hazmat suits.  In reality, they all were scared of getting infected. This battle was different.  “Noong nagdadamit na kami, siyempre virus yan, mas delikado kumpara sa siege, idinadaan nalang namin sa tawa, nagbibiro na lang kami ng mga kasama naming na parang ‘eto, tayo na naman ang nagtatrabaho, walang tutulong’. Hindi na naming masyadong pinu-problema para hindi mawalan ng lakas ang mga members namin,” Lucman said.  (When we were wearing our hazmat suits, of course we are dealing with a virus, more dangerous compared to the siege, we just laughed, we joked with our colleagues and I said “here we are again, working, no one will help”. We did not take it seriously so that our team members would not get discouraged).   “Sa siege kasi, naririnig mo ang putok ng baril, puwde kang magtago muna bago dumiretso. Unlike nito, hindi mo nakikita ang kalaban mo. Pwdeng anytime dumapo sa iyo kahit naka-protective suit ka, hindi 100% na hindi kakapit sa iyo,” he added.  (During the siege, you could hear the bursts of gunfire and explosions, you could take cover before proceeding. Unlike now, you cannot see your enemies. Anytime, you could get infected even if you are in a protective suit because it is not 100% you won’t get infected.)  To make sure they are safe when they get back to their office, they disinfect  three times.  The vehicle used in transporting the cadaver was also disinfected.  They went into quarantine until they were again called to bury another COVID patient on March 20.  At the cemetery, no Islamic rites were conducted since the immediate family members already did these at the isolation room.  They had to be very quick.  “Sa normal na libing namin, lahat nga pamilya na nasa paligid ay hahawak sa bangkay bago ilagay sa hukay, pasa-pasa yan. Maraming mag-volunteer na maglibing. Hindi ka natatakot. Pero ito, kahit immediate family ay nag-aalangan na humawak sa bangkay. Masakit isipin na ganoon ang naging impact ng sakit na ito.”  “Alanganin kaming humawak kasi baka mapunit ang PPEs namin,” Lucman added.  For the March 28 burial, the PDRRMO decided not to bring along the immediate family members of the deceased because the nearest relatives were living in Iligan City.  The Inter-Agency Task Force COVID-19 in Iligan City did not allow the relatives to go out from their house because they were classified as Persons Under Monitoring (PUM).   “On our end also, pinagbawal na namin na may family member na sumama kasi walang problema sa amin, we can always go on a quarantine. Sa mga family members, hindi natin alam kung may disiplina sa pag-quarantine. So imbes na mababawasan ang problema, mas lalong lalaki,” Lucman said.  (On our end, we prohibit family members from joining the burial.Dor our part, it's no problem because we can always go on quarantine. For the family members of the deceased, we are not sure if they have the discipline to undertake the mandated quarantine. Instead of easing the problem, it could only worsen the situation.)  “We understand the weight of the problem. We are not sure of the other people because there many who are still in denial once they got infected  with the virus,” he added.  It was hard for Lucman’s group to prohibit family members to bury their loved one but the group prefers it that way rather than risk further spreading the virus.

Army manufactures, distributes PPEs in NorMin

April 11, 2020

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City - The 10th Forward Service Support Unit (10FSSU) of the Army Support Command (ASCOM) providing general support to 4th Infantry "Diamond" Division has ramped up its production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) since March 23, 2020 in its bid to help Northern Mindanao’s fight against COVID-19. Face shields, masks Lt. Col. Lawrence Aninag, the Commanding Officer said 10FSSU was able to manufacture 3,070 face shields as of April 9, 2020 which were distributed to different communities and organizations in Cagayan de Oro City and its neighboring municipalities. Among the recipients of the face shields were Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT), Oro Banker Association in CDO, various PNP units and offices, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard- Northern Mindanao District, Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, and various units of 4ID. Aninag said aside from this, they also plan to distribute around 1,300 additional face shields to front liners in different areas particularly health workers and security forces. Soldiers are also working double time to fast track another batch of 1,500 shields to cater the needs of Army units and civilian health facilities in the 4th Infantry Division’s area of responsibility. The 10FSSU which is headquartered in Camp Evangelista in Brgy. Patag, Cagayan de Oro City has also also fabricated 200 face masks which were distributed to troops manning quarantine checkpoints. Soldiers’ ingenuity, dedication Major General Franco Nemesio Gacal, the Commander of the 4th Infantry Division lauded 10th FSSU for its initiative. “What 10FSSU is doing is another proof of the Filipino soldiers ingenuity, dedication, and intense desire to help our kababayans especially in times of crisis. I hope this will inspire other groups and sectors of our society to contribute whatever they can to our fight against a common enemy, the COVID-19," Gacal said. Elsewhere in the region, 4ID units are actively assisting Local Government Units and national and local government agencies in the distribution of food packs, implementation of quarantine measures, and information dissemination among others. Social Amelioration Program Meanwhile, 4ID is also being tapped to provide manpower and security assistance to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)- Region 10 on the distribution of cash assistance under the Social Amelioration Program of the national government. The said program is covered by Republic Act 11469 known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” which was recently passed by congress to boost the country’s fight against COVID-19. The said program is projected to benefit around 18 million poor families nationwide. Gacal who serves as Co- Chair of NorMin Regional Task Force on COVID-19 and at the same time head of the Search, Rescue and Retrieval Task Group extolled the soldiers and all members of security forces who are actively assisting Local Government Units in implementing various measures to curb the virus. He also commended health workers, volunteers, and other “front liners” for their selfless services as the nation scrambles to stop the spread of COVID-19.


April 8, 2020

BUKIDNON PROVINCIAL CAPITOL , 7 April 2020 | NFA-10 Regional Director John Robert R. Hermano and Provincial Manager Beverly M. Navarro of NFA Bukidnon attended the 26th Sanggunian Panlalawigan Session on April 7 called by Vice Governor Rogelio Quiño to address the pressing issues concerning NFA rice buffer stocks amidst the COVID pandemic. When asked if NFA sells to individual consumer, Dir. Hermano explained that NFA does not anymore sell to individual consumers. Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RA11203), the rice procured from local farmers are intended only for disaster and calamity relief distribution through government relief agencies such as Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) and its local offices (MSWD/CSWD), Local Government Units (LGUs), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Director Hermano clarified that the agency does not sell palay. The office buys palay from the farmers and have these milled by qualified miller-contractors, adopting the standard technical specifications of the agency to produce well-milled rice at a minimum of 63% recovery.  Palay withdrawal for milling should be covered by a cash bond. He said, “However, before we enter into contract with rice millers, we require test milling so as to determine the efficiency of their rice mill facilities." In the presence of Governor José María Rubín Zubiri Jr., Dir. Hermano detailed the procedures in addressing the pressing rice requirements of DSWD/CSWD/MSWD and LGUs in their relief operations in the light of any calamity affecting the province and/or the whole Northern Mindanao, mentioning such other concern as: creation of more storage spaces in warehouses in preparation for the palay procurement; roll-over of funds adopting the buy-mill-sell strategy through government relief agencies; and  maintenance for conservation of the quality of the buffer rice stocks. The NFA-10 Director emphasized in the vernacular: "Gusto po naming mawala ang stigma na natanim sa isipan ng mga tao tungkol sa NFA rice na ‘mabaho at mababang kalidad’. Itong bigas ng NFA na ipinamimigay ng DSWD at LGUs ngayon ay newly milled rice from the palay we procured since last harvest season. Well milled rice ito na kung bibilhin sa merkado ay aabot ng P40 bawat kilo. When asked why the agency did not improve its facilities by adding more warehouses and acquiring ricemills and other postharvest facilities, Dir Hermano explained that the office is undergoing restructuring and the personnel complement yet to be determined by Governance Commission For Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG). Once the restructured organization is approved, NFA will come up with a Facility Rationalization Plan###  


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