Tom O: How to handle Cebu City’s COVID crisis

By: Tomas Osmeña - Contributor/CDN Digital | June 19,2020 - 09:21 AM


In the last few days, friends and supporters have greeted me with comments and questions.

The most common question was “What would I do to reduce COVID cases in the barangay?” 

This one, I will answer.

Since there is no known cure for COVID, I can only present a detailed strategy.

During my term, I had implemented a “long-life” program. You may, or may not see the relevance of this program to the pandemic at the barangay level.  Please read on.


  1. Many patients at any emergency ward happen because the patient was not diligent in taking his daily medication.
  2. And the city government spends up to P30,000 for hospitalized costs (CHAMP).
  3. The patient typically waits 2 to 3 days before seeking medical attention. (This is not good especially now, in time of COVID).

The Objective:

  1. Operation Long Life hired jobless people for only one hour a day to distribute maintenance medicines. We pay the volunteer P100/day to deliver to 50 patients house to house. (Computes to only P2/patient/day)
  2. The volunteer would remind the patient to take his medicine as he gives it, and if at any day he doesn’t feel well, report to him, who in turn, will report to the health center.

Future Plan (Next planned step)

    1. ) Another trained volunteer would then arrive and take the blood pressure and other vital signs. He reports this to the health center.
    2. ) The health doctor may adjust or alter the medication.
    3. ) With no improvement, a barangay nurse will extract a blood sample.
    4. ) The doctor will rush to a laboratory which won the bidding for 5,000 prepaid blood analysis. So there’s automatic processing.
    5. ) The lab will text the doctor the results the same day.

Accomplishment: By the end of my term, 40,000 residents were already receiving their daily maintenance through 800 volunteers receiving P100.00/day.

Status: Mayor Labella fired all 800 (volunteers) and the program grinded to a halt. Labella says that health workers will be hired (at P500/day vs. P100/day for volunteers).

Actually the health worker sits in the health center waiting for the resident to pick-up his medication. 


So how will this program reduce the COVID cases in the barangay?

Answer: Not sure about that but it is known that sickly persons and the seniors are more prone to COVID. I bet that these persons would have a stronger immune system with daily maintenance.  At the least, we will have a healthier population in this time of stress.  And less people will die from other causes and the city may have savings from reduced hospital subsidies and burial assistance.

So to answer the question as to what I would do, the answer is that I did it already. So please don’t ask me to teach Labella because we don’t speak the same language. I try to keep you alive. He abolished the program.  Period.

If I were the Mayor when the pandemic hit our barangays, I will supply daily, using the 800 volunteers, multi-vitamins for ALL senior citizens, ALL residents in lock-down areas and even frontliners and BBRC inmates. (Multi-vitamin costs P6 each).  Since the human infrastructure is in place, I could accomplish this in 72 hours.

I will also use the network in 80 barangays to serve as a daily contact to each resident and report anyone who doesn’t feel well. It will be rapid reporting system instead of a P240 million command center. Finally, it will monitor fair and proper food distribution.

On a sad note, our long-life program was the only system of daily house-to-house distribution of medication in all the 7,000 islands and in all of ASIA.  Ask your friends in Japan and Korea if they do this. (They do) Not even (do this) in the U.S. or Europe.


Tomas Osmeña is the former mayor of Cebu City and is the founder of Cebu City’s opposition party, Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan.

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