Palace orders reduced govt work capacity

MALACANANG has ordered offices of the executive branch to limit their operating capacity up to 50 percent in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) until early April, amid the “alarming” surge in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Circular 85 ordering the reduced workforce on-site as well as the adoption of alternative work arrangements in government agencies located in areas from March 22 to April 4.

“There has been an alarming increase in the daily number of Covid-19 cases in the country for the past few weeks, with a rate similar to those experienced in July and August of 2020, which almost paralyzed the country’s health care system,” Medialdea said in his memorandum circular.

“There is a need to lay down the work arrangements that should be observed in government offices during these critical times to address the current surge in Covid-19 cases while ensuring the continuous delivery of public services,” it added.

The reduction of on-site capacity in government offices in GCQ areas was recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Under the Palace memo signed March 19, Medialdea said “all government agencies and instrumentalities of the executive branch, including government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) located in areas under GCQ, shall observe a minimum of 30 percent up to a maximum of 50 percent operational capacity at any given time.”

These government offices should follow this operating range “unless a higher capacity is required in agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, border control, and other critical services,” he said.

The Palace memo defined operational capacity as ” the number of employees or workers who are permitted or required to physically report to work in the premises of a particular agency of government, expressed as a percentage of the total workforce in such agency.”

Meanwhile, Medialdea directed heads of government agencies to adopt “optimal alternative work arrangements” for their respective agencies in line with the rules of the Civil Service Commission.

“All agencies, including every office and unit therein, shall ensure that the delivery of their respective services are not hampered or impaired,” he said.

In case an agency considers a temporary closure of offices due to high Covid-19 cases, Medialdea said the head of the agency must get clearance from the Office of the President.

The request for clearance to shut down premises must include the duration of the closure and be supported by verified data.

“No closure shall be implemented until such clearance is obtained from the Office of the President,” Medialdea said.

“Any violation of this directive, including misrepresentation as to the data in support of the request for clearance, shall subject the head of agency to administrative sanctions,” it added.

The Palace also “strongly urged” the legislative and judicial branches of government, independent constitutional commissions and bodies, and local government units.

The Philippines on Friday tallied 7,103 new coronavirus cases, a record daily increase in infections. This pushed the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 648,066.

The government launched its inoculation drive on March 1 and has received delivery of some 1.1 million donated doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. It plans to inoculate 70 million adults in a bid to achieve herd immunity this year.