Palace names new pandemic czars as Philippines sees more COVID-19 cases

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 05:03 PM

ANTI-VIRUS CZARS: Bases and Conversions Development Authority President and CEO Vince Dizon, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, and Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo "Bong" Vega. File

MANILA-- Malacañang on Monday introduced new czars who would lead the implementation of the country's strategy in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic as the Philippines sought a balance between protecting public health and reopening its economy.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque introduced the "Philippine anti-COVID czars," namely Bases and Conversions Development Authority President and CEO Vince Dizon, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, and Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo "Bong" Vega.

The four government officials will serve as point persons for key areas of the government's framework to fight the pandemic dubbed as T3 (Test, Track, Treat).

The framework, presented by pandemic response chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., consists of five phases to address the health crisis--planning, detection of the virus, isolation, treatment, and reintegration.

Dizon, also the deputy chief implementer of the country's pandemic response, will serve as the testing czar and will be in charge of expanding the country's COVID-19 detection efforts.

Baguio Mayor Magalong will work as the tracing czar after his city was hailed by the national government for its best practice in contact tracing in light of pandemic. 

Public Works Secretary Villar meanwhile is the isolation czar and will lead the government's efforts in putting up quarantine facilities across the country.

Health Undersecretary Vega on the other hand is the treatment czar, in charge of monitoring the critical care capacity of hospitals for COVID-19 cases.

Since the major easing of lockdowns last month, the government has geared its coronavirus response towards economic recovery even as it continues to fight local transmission of the virus.

For July 12, the Philippines reported an additional 2,124 COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of cases to 56,259. This includes 1, 534 deaths and 16,046 recoveries.