There are claims that frontliners are respected elsewhere in the world except in Cebu. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the Province of Cebu, frontliners have enjoyed full support even before the Covid-19 pandemic came.
The moment Governor Gwendolyn Garcia assumed office for her fourth elective term, these frontliners have already been on top of her list of priorities.
If there's a group of government service workers her heart bleeds for - it's the barangay tanods, health workers, daycare center workers, nutrition scholars, and animal health aides who render workload more than what is expected of them.
Barangay health workers (BHW), nutrition scholars, tanods, and other workers in the country's most basic government unit are considered the first line of defense in the community’s fight against the spread of the pandemic.
Around 16,000 barangay health workers are at the forefront in the delivery of basic public health services. An estimated 15,000 tanods are the first to respond in the barangays since no police is available immediately when an incident occurs.
So in the first quarter of 2020, Garcia fulfilled her campaign promise to “defend the defenders.”
Barangay frontliners received a 66.66 percent increase in cash incentive from P2,400 to P4,000. The barangay tanods received P3,000 from what was P1,500. They also got a new set of uniform.
On top of these is their enrollment to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) group accident insurance which has a P50,000 accident benefit and P15,000 medical reimbursement.
Rosalyn Diana, 32, a BHW of Barangay Capitan Claudio in Toledo City expressed her gratitude to the Cebu Provincial Government especially to Garcia for the “promised gifts.”
Romeo Pantaleon, a tanod in Barangay Daanlungsod in Medellin town, is glad to have been finally enrolled in the GSIS.
"Wa ko magdahum nga duna gyud diay manalipud namo,” Pantaleon expressed.
He went on to process his claim for reimbursement of medical expenses for his dislocated shoulder bone.
Tanods also received Government Working for Emergency Network (GWEN) kits which can be worn around the waist and have a whistle, cudgel, and handy pockets or compartments for other tools and devices.
Barangay workers who have taken on more challenging tasks as emergency responders while the country is in a state of public health emergency were provided with further support.
Food packs were distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to BHWs, barangay nutrition scholars, daycare center workers, barangay tanods, and barangay animal health aides.
The assistance trickled down to other frontliners such as the barangay intelligence network and the disaster risk reduction and management team.
Garcia used available funds from her previous post as a congresswoman of the third district of Cebu for the purchase of the food packs.
“Pagpasalamat ni nato sa atong barangay frontliners nga dako kaayo’g kontribusyon niining atong pakigbatok sa Covid-19. Kini sila mao nay galihok diha sa ilang tagsa-tagsa ka barangay. Nya kini ra ba sila wala ra ba gyud ni nadawat ba. Duna siguro’y nadawat nga pahalipay, apan angayan pud nato nga tagaan og pagtagad,” the governor said.
“Ilang kalauman nga samtang ania pa si Gwen Garcia, kadtong ilang naandan nga pagpangga og paghatag og bili sa ilang dako kayo nga tabang sa probinsya sa Sugbo ila gayod kanang matagamtam. Sugod palang ni sa unang unom ka buwan sa atong pagbalik. Ako gayod gituman ang akong saad,” she added.
Furthermore, the Capitol announced that all Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel will be enrolled in the GSIS group accident insurance to show appreciation to their valuable service.
These are the personnel of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), led by Col. Roderick Mariano, rendering 12-hour duty per shift in 24 hours.
Last April 16, Garcia said that the 1,600 police personnel manning the checkpoints will be enrolled in the GSIS group accident insurance plan worth P500,000 each.
“Dili man diay ni sila covered sa GSIS. Mokuha diay ni sila og insurance plan unya i-deduct sa ilang sweldo, ila na nang choice,” Garcia said.
“The accident insurance will cover all PNP personnel under the CPPO, including force multipliers. Apilon ni nato kay apil ra ba sad ni sila sa magpulaw (vigil). Dili siguro sama sa P500,000 since they are volunteers, we will see how we can help them,” Garcia added.
The governor also instructed that items donated by private companies and socio-civic groups to the Capitol will be given to the CPPO, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 who are also serving the frontlines since the community quarantine took effect.
The CPPO, AFP, and PNP received a total of 5,100 pieces of washable face masks, 49 sacks of 50-kilo rice, 20 sacks of 25-kilo rice, 110 boxes of Kopiko instant coffee, 600 bottles of 500-milliliter hand soap and 3,330 bottles of 150-milliliter ethyl alcohol (70-percent solution), 600 pieces of disposable face masks, 72 boxes of sodium ascorbate/ascorbic acid with 100 tablets per box, 1500 vials of flu vaccine, and 1400 food packs.
The Provincial Board passed an ordinance against any form of discrimination and harassment against medical and other emergency frontliners last April 7.
Any person who harasses, discriminates, dishonors, and disrepects frontliners will be sanctioned with a fine of P5,000 and jail time of not more than one year.
All of these and more have been done by the Capitol for the real-life heroes who continuously fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Next time reports about Cebu Province not taking care of its frontliners surface, check and re-check the veracity of their claims. (Eleanor Valeros)