The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said it is targeting to start the hiring of contact tracers in September once the additional P5-billion appropriation under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) is released.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the DILG is waiting for the ratification of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and its passage into law to ramp up contact tracers hiring efforts.
“‘Pag ito [P5-billion funding] ay na-release na ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) sa amin ay maglalabas na kami ng qualifications for contact tracers,” Malaya said.
“Siguro sa September puwede na kami mag-hire,” he said.
The DILG official said that with the additional P5-billion funding, the agency will be able to hire a maximum of 50,000 contact tracers to meet the recommended ratio for contact tracing of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the Philippines' contact tracing czar, of a 1:30 or 1:37.
Malaya said there are about 85,000 contact tracers all over the country. The additional 50,000 target to be hired will reach the government’s goal of 135,000 contact tracers, he added.
“Priority natin Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan,” Malaya said.
Pending the release of additional funding, the DILG will draft the guidelines on the deployment of contact tracers.
The DILG will also conduct advance hiring to hasten the deployment of contact tracers once funds are available, according to the Interior official.
“It is contact tracing that will cut the transmission,” Malaya said.
On Friday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año expressed gratitude to lawmakers as the additional funds would allow the government to enforce aggressive contact tracing, active case surveillance, and case finding which are the pillars of the National Action Plan against COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate has ratified the reconciled version of the proposed Bayanihan in a bid to facilitate economic recovery as the Philippines continues its battle against COVID-19.
The House of Representatives meanwhile is set to ratify on Monday the bicameral committee report on the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, which now outlines a P165 billion-worth of response interventions to help the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and boost the economy. —Ted Cordero/KG, GMA News