Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases in the City of Naga have escalated to even up to 18%. Despite lesser stringent measures under General Community Quarantine compared to that of restrictions during ECQ, the movement of people is cautiously becoming limited by choice because of the fear of contracting the virus. Citing this difficulty, it is a relief to make transactions at the comfort of your own homes, without compromising health and security. Also, to know that the government is at its utmost forefront to curb the spread of the virus.
To attain the goals of digitalization especially in the middle of extreme urgency, the PA211 Class of Master in Public Administration of Ateneo de Naga University in coordination with the Center for Local Governance conducted a webinar entitled E-Governance: Naga City Connecting to its People Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic last May 7, 2021. This activity was conducted to steer awareness among the Nagueños on the government initiatives to cope up with the crisis through digital technology and connect to them by providing easier access to government services.
Hon. Nelson S. Legacion served as the activity’s Guest Speaker. Primarily, he recounted on the different facets of cataclysm that challenged his fairly young stint as the City Mayor of Naga- from the natural disasters in the last quarter of 2020 to the public health emergencies in the 1st quarter of 2021 with COVID-19, most especially, affecting the Nagueños in every aspect and still up to now posing an unprecedented plight. One of his first courses of action was the call for more volunteers to help in fighting this unseen enemy. He made use of Facebook to announce this plea and utilized google forms for the registration. The call for volunteerism was overwhelming as more than 1,700 individuals responded to this call to be able to serve the fellow Nagueños- from providing food, transport, and accommodation to the frontliners to imposing hard lockdowns and manning quality control points.
He also mainstreamed on their best practices using ICT solutions to reach out to the public and involve them in this fight through awareness. The COVID-19 Dashboard provides data, analyses, updates, and implications on the recent COVID-19 cases in the city which can be easily accessed online. The data analyses become a great factor in the process of their decision-making in addressing COVID-19 cases.
E-Salvar has been one of the most essential things that should be with by every individual once going out of their residences. This is an eminence of public-private partnership strategy, with the City Government of Naga thru the City Information and Technology Department collaborated with the local company, Nueca which developed this application. It becomes the access in entering business establishments in the city. This QR-based mobile phone application is a contact tracing tool, in the first level, that provides data up to the third degree of close contacts of a COVID-19 positive. As per the City Mayor, 79% of the total population of Naga City has already registered to E-Salvar, and more than 173,000 Naga City non-residents have also secured their QR Codes. And in compliance to safety protocols, more than 1,000 business establishments have also complied to the adaption of E-Salvar. This app manifested evidence-based local solutions and strategies by the local government in addressing COVID-19.
Mayor Legacion also makes use of the Facebook, as the most popular and widely used social media platform, to personally connect to the Nagueños using his personal page. He also uses it to deliver information like providing the details of COVID-19 cases in the city on a daily basis as well as present measures, policies, and campaigns in relation to COVID-19. The city’s official Facebook account is also active in providing updates on the cases of COVID-19 in the city, announcements and even simple reminders in following proper health protocols and regulations. Mostly, these FB accounts are being utilized to correct misinformation to prohibit the spread of fake news.
Despite political strife, he assures that so far, the city is systematically winning over the rage of COVID-19 pandemic because of three factors: unity of purpose, active local civil society, and a culture of open and science-informed decision making. He ended the first part of the activity with the encouragement to the Nagueños to do their part in ensuring a COVID-19 resistant Naga- a Ciudadanong Nalalaoman, Nasasarigan, asin Nang-aataman.
For the second part, the webinar was joined by esteemed panel of reactors. Dr. Marshal P. Murillo, Associate Professor of Ateneo de Naga Graduate School, who shared his insight on ICT, Government and Society relationship in pandemic response and actions. Ms. Valen N. Cortes and Mr. Jesus M. Favorito Jr., both students of PA 211, provided their insights on the importance of ICT solutions and other digital mechanism for effective delivery of public service during this pandemic.
Dr. Malu C. Barcillano, Director of Center for Local Governance gave the Opening remarks for the program. Ms. Alyza Joyce Alarcon of PA 211, facilitated the flow of the program as the moderator and Ms. Roma A. Belano, Head of Organizing Committee of the said webinar and also a student of PA 211 gave her Closing remarks.
The said webinar was streamed live via the Ateneo CLG official facebook page and Ateneo CLG official Youtube account where in participants from the academe and different government agencies raised their questions through live chats and comments. It was operated by Mr. Sherwin B. Perez and Mr. Emmanuel P. Llorin, the technical support team of the James J. O’Brien, S.J. Library namely under the supervision of the University Librarian, Ms. Edna M. Buenaventura
To watch the recorded webinar please refer to these links:
By: Jericson A. Balatan, Erika Mae R. Besenio, and the MPA Students