Mayor Richard Gomez speaks out vs national gov't agencies, allegedly told to receive 'Balik Probinsya’ beneficiaries ‘untested’ for COVID-19

Photo from Facebook

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on Monday could not help but express his anger towards the national government agencies over the handling of returning residents who availed the Balik Probinsya program.

In a Facebook post, Gomez said he received a text from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) informing them that there are three planes arriving which they must accept.

He said, the returning folks were not even tested for coronavirus and were also “undocumented”.

"DILG, NHA, OWWA, what happened to all the protocols that you guys are trying to formulate for returning residents?!!!” the actor-turned-politician said

“This morning the DILG regional office and OWWA texted, “texted”, us informing us that there are 3 planes arriving in Tacloban and telling us to receive them without following Covid protocols, undocumented and untested. “ he said

Gomez also stressed how they kept their city COVID free for more than 70 days because they imposed a very strict protocol.

“We have kept our city Covid-free for more than 70 days because of strict border controls and the implementation of health protocols. Then here comes a TEXT from the National government agencies telling us that there are repatriates coming in our city and telling us to accept them?!”  the Ormoc mayor said

“What happened to all the protocols that we’ve been working on? What happened their protocols that they have been telling us to do if they themselves are not doing the right thing?!” he added

“It only takes one infected person to get to our city to infect a hundred innocent people bec of carelessness from the national government agencies. Where is the National Task Force Covid Shield and the IATF in all of these?!!!” Gomez continued

Meanwhile, when asked for reaction, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that people being talked about were not part of the Balik Probinsya program but are OFWs who wanted to go back home.
Año added that the said post must be validated first with the mayor.

“And maybe he was misinformed and there are already many official announcements on this,” Año said via Inquirer

This post from Gomez also elicited different reactions from the netizens. Here are some:

“If they arrive in your city, Mayor Goma, then it's a fait accompli imposed on you by the national agencies. We suggest you welcome them like homecoming heroes, but assign a quarantine place just to be safe. Best to you and Ormoc City”

“Gobyernong walang plano at hindi nagpaplano kung saan tayo patutungo with this pandemic.”

“Then they will deny they sent a text! Unless on official circular - LGU reply would be : Did not receive circular, & continue whatever you have done to keep your province COVID19 Free. Mabuhay Goma”

“Mayor, thank you for speaking up in behalf of all your frontliners nga nahasol sa ila system (or lack thereof) sa national. Since last week naay muabot sa ato borders, usahay kadlawn, without proper coordination. AND NO VALID DOCUMENTS.

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