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COVID-19 WATCH

Gov’t agencies asked to identify skeletal workforce

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Malacañang is asking all government agencies to identify their respective skeletal workforces as the country remains under enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will be in charge of giving accreditation IDs to facilitate the speedy tracking of persons exempted from the quarantine.

“All government agencies in the executive branch are hereby directed to issue accreditation orders to identify their respective skeletal workforces for critical services operating during the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon,” Nograles said in a press briefing late Tuesday night.

He noted that agencies have until Saturday to secure their accreditation.

In the meantime, Nograles said, bonafide IDs issued by the respective agencies will be sufficient for movement around the contained area until accreditation has been secured.

Skeleton workforces may use official agency vehicles, he added.

Besides government workers, media personnel may also secure their accreditation until Saturday.

Only those who bear the ID will be exempted from the quarantine requirement, Nograles said.

He, however, said that the PCOO has yet to consider rescinding media accreditation despite calls to do away with it.

Earlier, the University of the Philippines’ Department of Journalism, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), and the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines (PCP) said acquiring a new ID was “unnecessary” since it gives the impression that the government wants to control media and compromise independent coverage.

Instead of requiring them new IDs, the PCOO should instead provide them with safety equipment and logistics to ensure effective coverage, they said.

The Philippines is currently under enhanced community quarantine until April 12, which refers to strict home quarantine in all households; suspended transport; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel.

Health workers, authorized government officials, media personnel, those traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons providing basic services, and essential skeletal workforce will be exempted from the quarantine.

The country is also under a state of public health emergency and a state of calamity due to Covid-19.

There are a total of 187 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, including 14 deaths, according to the Department of Health.

More than 150 countries have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China.

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