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Republic of the Philippines

Department of Health
Osmeña Boulevard,Sambag II, Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
Regional Director’s Office Tel. No. (032) 253-6355 Fax No. (032) 254-0109
Official Website http://www.ro7.doh.gov.ph/Email Address: dohro7@gmail.com


The Project Balik Buhay was initiated by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas
and a product of collaboration between the tri-city LGUs of Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-
Lapu City, the Department of Health, and the private sector represented by the business
chambers in the tri-cities. The initiative has even gained support and commendation from the
national government.

Its aim is to restore the people’s livelihood which the initial lockdown has greatly affected,
without undermining the continued presence of this dreaded disease that has taken so many lives
from all over the world. The program has been carefully crafted by a team of health experts in
pathology, epidemiology and infectious disease control with the support of the LGUs, OPAV
and the private sector. It is a phased and structured reopening of the economy that is based on
the prevalence of the disease, thus the strategized community testing is being performed.

Protocols and systems are being developed to ensure a smooth reopening of the tri-cities in order
to prevent a second wave of outbreak that will certainly lead to another lockdown. Mandatory
testing of all employees in the cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Lapu-Lapu was considered in the
initial direction of the PBB but has not been officially recommended by the Department of
Health Regional Office 7. This is because the strategic community-based mass testing has been
extended until May 20, 2020. The results of which are yet to be analyzed and interpreted by our
pathologist and epidemiologist in order to come up with scientific, evidence-based and data-
driven recommendations.

Following the analysis and interpretation of the results, our leaders in the tri-cities will be able to
decide on the next steps based on the scientific, evidence-based and data-driven
recommendations by our local experts who have firsthand information on the real situation of the
tri-cities. There is a reason why we have a decentralized form of government and LGUs are
given local autonomy, and that is because they have an unmediated access to information and
real-time grasp of what is going on in the communities of their domain.

In relation to this, the recommendation of a mandatory rapid testing of all or a representative

number of employees in the private sector, as the case may be, will be based on the number of
COVID-19 cases in the community. However, should there be a sustained community
transmission-or an increasing number of cases in one particular community, an intensive contact
tracing will be performed in addition to the implementation of community-level quarantine or
lockdown. Thus, employees coming from the said barangay or community, if asked to report for
work within the localized community quarantine period must be subjected to rapid testing by the
employer before he is permitted to return-to-work in order to safeguard the welfare of other
employees. Moreover, only the cost for rapid testing will be borne by the employer, giving them
leeway on how they will undertake such testing so as to give them the opportunity to cut the
costs but without disregarding existing DOH guidelines.

It is good to know that our partners in the private sector, especially the large businesses, are
supportive of this plan of action. Meanwhile, we understand that most of our MSMEs may have
suffered and actually felt the losses of the initial lockdown and may further be burdened by the
thought of a mandatory rapid testing for their employees, thus, we are considering that the
MSMEs concerned be considered for a subsidy arrangement.

Unless and until we have the results of the strategized community mass testing and the same
have been analyzed by our local experts, no final recommendation from this office may be had
that would stand as basis for our local leaders to decide and formulate policies in furtherance of
the new normal that this pandemic has so irreverently imposed on us.

However, as we moved along in the process of implementing the Project Balik Buhay, certain
guidelines from the national IATF-MEID have overtaken parts of the program even before their
Republic of the Philippines
Department of Health
Osmeña Boulevard,Sambag II, Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
Regional Director’s Office Tel. No. (032) 253-6355 Fax No. (032) 254-0109
Official Website http://www.ro7.doh.gov.ph/Email Address: dohro7@gmail.com

This prompted the local chief executives of the tri-cities to appeal to the national IATF-MEID
with the recommendation of the regional IATF-MEID. The national IATF-MEID subsequently

another resolution placing Cebu City and Mandaue City under Enhanced Community Quarantine
(ECQ) until May 31, 2020. Despite that, Lapu-Lapu City is now under General Community
Quarantine (GCQ).

This new development impels us to revisit the Project Balik Buhay and make some modifications
in order to comply with the IATF-MEID Omnibus Guidelines. Moreover, we will continue to
evaluate the results of our community testing and come up with another recommendation for our
PBB partners to hopefully adopt and for the national IATF-MEID to consider.

Withal, should the tri-cities be placed under General Community Quarantine on June 1, 2020,
where most businesses will now be allowed to reopen, the testing of the employees will NOT be
mandatory but voluntary as a management prerogative. The guidelines set forth by the national
government agencies on return-to-work should also be complied with.

Let us move forward with caution and prudence so that the initial lockdown will not have been
an exercise in futility. Let us continue to flatten the curve and work towards a united nation with
a healthy and productive citizenry.


Regional Director