In a drastic move to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the county, the Philippine President imposed a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine effective March 17 until April 14, 2020.


Under this measure, sweeping restrictions were ordered across eight regions – suspension of classes, strict quarantine for all households, suspension of public transport, regulation of the provision of food and health services, suspension of work in all government and business offices (except for those providing essential services), and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures.


Acting upon the directive of the national government, SIMON announced the need for suspension of fieldwork and Galilee services and asked all units to plan work from home beginning March 23, 2020.


As we respond to this crisis with urgency, the welfare of our own employees was foremost on our mind. To temper their worry and provide them a sense of security, we authorized the immediate release of their pro-rated 13th month pay, monetized sick leave and vacation leave credits and one-month salary. Further, they were each given a sack of rice, Vitamin C, masks and alcohol.


Amidst the widespread fear and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and the restrictive conditions under the community quarantine, SIMON remains steadfast in its commitment to respond to the needs of the larger community and provide crucial support for the COVID-19 frontliners.


We have made available the Galilee Resource Center for the use of Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), one of the designated subnational COVID-19 testing centers in the country. Galilee will be used as a Triage Area for patients who need to be tested and cared for.


There is a potential hospitality service for doctors and nurses of BRTTH being discussed with Simon and Villa Amada Hotel. In this extraordinary time, a place to rest the tired bodies of some of our frontliners will ease their weariness, ensure some comfort and enable them to go for another stretch of compassionate and dedicated service to persons under investigation who are diagnosed as positive to the coronavirus.

Together with local agencies of the government, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the Municipal Health Office, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and Emergency Response Teams, we will monitor the situation in various areas and provide logistical support and partner where possible to help save lives.


As the battle to curb the outbreak rages on, we will respond to the needs of our beneficiaries who are locked in or locked down by policies or advisories that are promulgated and not fully understood because of impairments or disability or simply for lack of clarity.


We will be on the forefront of community awareness campaign on coronavirus, its symptoms, prevention and transmission. Infographics will be produced in Tagalog and Bicol dialect and will be disseminated digitally and in print to our program partners in the Bicol Region. Different sets will be produced for children and adults, with special focus on the vulnerability of persons with disabilities, the elderly and people with serious medical condition.


We will set up a platform to connect with persons with disabilities (Ugnayan sa Pagasa via Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, Instagram) and assist them to better understand the far-ranging consequences of the COVID-pandemic in the Philippines and across the world. We will assess how we will be able to extend assistance to persons with disabilities who are listed as persons under investigation (PUI) or persons under monitoring (PUM).


The month-long community quarantine and work stoppage will have dire financial consequences to persons with disabilities and their families living in Sagip Kapamilya Simon of Cyrene Village. Plan is underway for the setting up of a livelihood program for the village residents. Vegetable gardening, growing of ornamental plants, vertical gardening and composting are but some of the lined-up activities. We hope to augment the income of some 50 families in the village through this project while keeping in mind the principles of social distancing and proper protection.


As we feel the ground shift beneath our feet and witness the heartbreaking impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we brace ourselves for the tougher times ahead. We will not let fear and isolation prevail in our hearts and minds.


SIMON, no matter the situation, will find a way to help lighten the burden of those most in need and vulnerables. In these challenging times, we are one with humanity in praying that all these will come to pass…while sending across the message of love, faith, hope and solidarity.