Cimatu OKs PBB relaunch
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, the overseer of the Interagency Task Force (IATF) in Cebu, has approved the relaunch of the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) program in the tricities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.
“I am encouraged by that (PBB) move, I support it. I (will) encourage that also to other government agencies. I opted to be here in this meeting with the business sector because this is really very necessary. The importance really is the indication of success here in Cebu City,” said Cimatu during a private meeting in Cebu City.
Cimatu noted a decrease in the positivity rate in Cebu City, from 30 percent out of 100 Cebuanos tested for Covid-19 last June, down to 11 percent in July, a good indicator of the government’s response in the fight against Covid-19.
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) defines Project Balik Buhay as the transition to the calibrated, scientific, evidence-based transition from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Unlike its first launch that the PBB focused on mass rapid testing of the constituents to get a bigger picture on how the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread in the three cities, the PBB will now focus on the private sector, by gradually re-opening the community, especially the businesses.
Retired Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, deputy Chief Implementor for IATF in Cebu, also expressed his support to the relaunch of the PBB.
He said that the end-product of this program is to have an agreement between the private sector and the local chief executives in implementing the PBB.
“There is no question that PBB is a good process and will work for all business establishments. The business sector has mentioned going through the process of having this plan being cascaded and disseminated to all the business establishments,” said Feliciano.
Edmun Liu, chairman of PBB for the private sector, promised the IATF that they will update their plan for a relaunch within the week.
Liu said they will tap health experts to ensure that they will present a thorough plan, which includes establishing workplace health standards and regular testing protocols for business establishments to adopt.
“PBB wanted to find a way to balance the lives and livelihood of the people, while not making it difficult for businesses to reopen. What we would have wanted sana during that time (June 1, Cebu City was under GCQ) was that for PBB to work, kailangan everybody would be willing to do our part, sana before reopening and going back to work, ma-implement yung health standards in the workplace, at saka ma-test yung employees, kahit man lang hindi 100 percent, and kahit even through rapid anti-body test lang, not the rt-PCR test because back then, we didn’t have enough machines,” Liu said.
He reiterated that it is the main responsibility of the businessmen or the owners/employers, to provide a safe environment in their businesses. /bmjo
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