The Economy Cluster Committee, chaired by NEDA-6 Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal conducted its 2nd online meeting on May 1, 2020 through VidyoConnect. The meeting was called to discuss various monitoring tools for COVID-19, updates/status of PPAs implemented by frontline agencies, DA, DTI, BFAR, DOLE, TESDA, and discuss transitioning towards the New Normal.

Three COVID-19 monitoring tools or apps were presented. Two by the Department of Science and Technology and another one was introduced by ARKITEK, a private IT solutions company based in Iloilo City.  DOST-6 RD Rowen R. Gelonga and DOST-6 DRRMU head Mr. Ryan Vilmor J. Dumpit presented FASSSTER (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases) and the Tanod COVID apps respectively.

FASSTER, which was developed by the Ateneo de Manla University with support from UP Manila, NEDA-PIDS, the Asian Institute of Management and the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, among others, is not merely a monitoring tool but a predictive modelling tool that is based on sound scientific parameters but also has dependencies on actual data generated and fed to the system. The app is not made available for public but is intended for LGUs and planners that would need assistance in identifying their courses of actions beyond the quarantine period. Critically, it can be used to determine whether we need to impose new quarantine periods or not.

Another tool, TanodCOVID an adjunct of FASSSTER is an SMS-based symptoms reporting system which provides a means for households to report the symptoms of their family members to their LGUs/BHERT using a simple mobile phone, thus providing vital information on the extent of cases or incidents in a particular area.

Arkitek Founder/Manager Mr. Sherwin Aldana presented QVID, a contact tracing system using QR codes. It introduces uniformity of simple and secured data gathering for end-users with or without smart phones by empowering barangay-based registration with the barrio.citizen and barrio.council apps.

After these, selected regional line agencies presented the updates on the status of their Social Amelioration Programs and other PPAs including the issues and concerns identified on the ground.

DA reported on the status of their PPAs in ensuring the steady supply of adequate food at reasonable prices to consumers. Updates of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance, Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers and Expanded Survival and Recovery Program was also presented.

DTI presented the proposed guidelines for the region’s economic drivers which include the MSMES (food and non-food), wholesalers/retailers and BPO/IT BPM under a modified/total lifting of enhanced community quarantine, among others. TESDA reported on the survey being conducted on the kind of courses that will be offered and the capability of TVIs to offer proposed blended and e-learning courses. The agency is also proposing to partner with DA, DOLE, NCIP and other agencies in conducting training programs. The agency plans to partner with SUCs for agriculture trainings, and other agencies/private organizations for other courses.

DOLE presented their CAMP Accomplishment as of April 30 including the number of establishments with CAMP applications submitted by private establishments whose workers were affected by the ECQ, the status of applications and amount of funds disbursed.  Other programs reported include the TUPAD BKBK program, AKAP program for OFWs and SAP for sugar workers (for Iloilo and Negros Occidental) and the post COVID implementation of Tulong Pangkabuhayan Program.

CAAP reported about their preparations towards transitioning to the new normal. Airport operations are shortened from 24 hours to 12 hours only, vehicles will go through wheel bath, mandatory wearing of face masks, web booking check-in, electronic boarding pass, maintain physical distancing, provision of sanitizers and alcohol and Health Declaration Cards to be attached to boarding passes, among others.

The Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILED) presented the results of the Iloilo Business Response to COVID-19 survey, which was conducted to provide inputs to the economic recovery plans of Iloilo City and Iloilo Province, and also to determine the perceived impact of COVID-19 on business conditions; the Business’ expectations of the Iloilo economy and business operations; and as well as the assistance programs for economic recovery.

Director Bacal discussed in brief the paper on Transitioning to the New Normal prepared by NEDA Region VI. She requested the agencies to consider the document as a reference in the preparation of the Rehabilitation and Recovery Plans. She also requested the agencies and LGUs to send their comments and recommendations on the prepared document before the same is discussed in the next Regional IATF-COVID-19 meeting, particularly the proposed criteria for Governors/Mayors to consider in their decisions on whether to lift or ease the quarantines in vulnerable municipalities/barangays or not.

The Western Visayas Economy Cluster will continue to conduct regular meetings in order to provide recommendations on policies, programs & strategies that will promote confidence in the health system; rebuild consumer and business confidence; and adapt to a “new normal” state of economic activities. (DRD/NEDA)