SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao - The provincial government of Maguindanao has converted the unused old Capitol building in Shariff Aguak into a COVID-19 isolation facility in preparation for the arrival of locally stranded individuals (LSIs).
The three-storey building was built by the Ampatuan family at a cost of P218 million before the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
It was used as a warehouse after the massacre, which led to the downfall of the late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, the incumbent Maguindanao governor, on Monday led the inauguration of the facility together with Provincial Health chief Dr. Elizabeth Samama.
The isolation facility has 200 beds intended to accommodate LSIs and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
It is the third isolation facility in the province. The first one is at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in Datu Hoffer town, while the other one is the unused Maguindanao jail.
Once the renovation work is completed, the Shariff Aguak isolation facility can accommodate 400 beds.
Mangudadatu said the isolation facility has separate rooms for men and women, but there are rooms for a husband and wife, or a family.
The facility also has a playground and TV viewing area.
“Due to the demand of LSIs and ROFs expected to come back home from Metro Manila, we managed to finished this in five days to accommodate them,” Mangudadatu said.
Maguindanao has 38 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 11 of them are staying in an isolation center in Shariff Aguak.
No fatality has been reported, according to Samama.
“This is indeed a very welcome act making sure that the province can give the much needed care due our LSIs and ROFs. In this facility, they can then undergo the required quarantine requirements based on DOH [Department of Health] standard protocols,” she said.
Aside from the old Capitol building in Shariff Aguak, another provincial capitol building used by past governors has been converted into a COVID-19 quarantine facility. This is the one in Barangay Nuling in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat used by former governors Zacaria Candao and Norodin Matalam from 1986 to 1995.
Meanwhile, Mangudadatu chided other local governments for not being welcoming to returning LSIs and ROFs. Some of these LSIs and ROFs were accommodated in Maguindanao after they were not welcomed in their provinces.
“During the election campaign, nagmamakaawa tayo sa kanila. Now they need help (but) we turn our back,” she said, addressing some local leaders who refused to allow the return of LSIs.
The governor then urged the public to maintain cleanliness not only to fight COVID-19 but also to prevent contracting dengue, polio and other communicable diseases.
"Some despite their impoverished situation can still buy guns and jewelry. Why not use the money to buy brooms or toilet bowls and make it a habit to clean our surroundings?" she said.
The DOH on Monday said the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 82,040.
Total recoveries were 26,446 while the death toll climbed to 1,945. —KG, GMA News