“Without the COVID vaccines, we cannot see any other viable solution out of this pandemic,” Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia told a group of about 90 pastors of various religious groups in Bacolod during a virtual dialog Monday, April 12.
Leonardia, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiarian, Rep. Greg Gasataya, City Administrator Em Ang and other officials of the Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) met with the church leaders to brief them on the current COVID situation and the vaccination plans of the City once the vaccines become available within the third quarter of this year, a press release from the Bacolod Public Information Office said.
“Please remind your congregations that COVID-19 is still with us. It is growing even more infectious everyday. There is greater need now to observe more carefully the prescribed health protocols, to avoid mass gatherings, and to get vaccinated once the vaccines are here,” the mayor said.
Leonardia also presented to them the containment efforts taken since the pandemic started and the huge costs to government in fighting the pandemic.
The city government has prepared P300 million of local funds for the vaccination program, he also said.
“We are happy to report that we succeeded in contracting for 650,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines which will be good for about 76 percent of our vaccinable population. The rest should be provided us by the national government”, Leonardia said.
The mayor also informed the pastors that among the 61 barangays in Bacolod, only 27 barangays, or 44 percent, are left with no active COVID-19 cases.
There is a current temporary travel ban into the city of travelers coming from outside of Western Visayas to curb the spread of the virus, he said.
Another proactive measure is for people to self-impose restrictions to reduce large gatherings, he said, pointing out that worship services can be voluntarily pared down to only 30 percent of the sitting capacity of the venue even if the City is still under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), which allows maximum attendance at 50 percent of sitting capacity.
“This is now something beyond us in many ways. We hope that when we are together, we can storm heaven with our prayers and survive all of these”, the mayor told the pastors.
Gasataya also thanked the spiritual leaders for their prayers.
“Let me thank you for lifting this up to God and for including us in your prayers. The road is still so dark, but our God is there to guide us and lead us and to bring us where we should go,” he said.
Familiaran, who chairs the City’s Inter-Agency Task Force, told the religious leaders: “Thank you for praying. We’ve been fighting COVID for more than a year. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
Also joining the online meeting were Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the Quarantine Centers Action Team; Councilor Israel Salanga, chair of the Action Team on Returning OFWs; EOC Contact Tracing head Dr. Rosalie Deocampo; OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr.; Dr. Chris Sorongon, EOC deputy medical for data analysis and assessment; Executive Assistant Teresa Manalili and City PIO staff.*