Philippines Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) - Operational Guidance on Providing Assistance in the Context of COVID-19 Response Operations April 2020


I. Background

  1. The Government has taken a number of measures to mitigate and respond to the spread of the disease since the COVID-19 cases were recorded in January 2020. Following the confirmation of community transmission and subsequent spike in the number of cases, Government imposed a 30-day ‘community quarantine’ over the National Capital Region (NCR). Enhanced community quarantine (ECQ/lockdown) and stringent social distancing measures were imposed over the entire Luzon, including suspension of classes and school activities, prohibition of mass gatherings, home quarantine with movement limited to accessing necessities, restriction on land, domestic air and sea travel, and imposition of a curfew. Subsequently, similar measures were imposed throughout the country, including in Mindanao where more than 300,000 people remain displaced from the Marawi conflict and series of earthquakes in Cotabato and Davao del Sur earthquakes. The military and police were mobilized to enforce travel restrictions and border closures and maintain law and order; military land, air and sea assets were likewise made available to transport essential government personnel, supplies and equipment.

  2. On 17 March, the President declared a state of national calamity throughout the Philippines which allows the national government and local government units (LGUs) to utilize appropriate funds, including local calamity fund and Quick Response Fund. On 24 March the President signed the “Bayanihan To Heal as One” Act into law, providing him with emergency powers to further strengthen the government response during the COVID19 State of National Emergency.

II. Aim and scope

  1. This guidance is aimed at supporting the Philippine Government’s COVID-19 response strategy. It is based on relevant global guidelines. It is primarily intended to guide members of the HCT – UN agencies, international and national NGOs, including operational and implementing partners – in coordinating efforts to support national government agencies (NGAs) and LGUs in the COVID-19 health emergency response.

  2. This operational guidance includes practical consideration on the appropriate interaction of humanitarian agencies with national military and law enforcement authorities responding to the epidemic. Furthermore, the guidance seeks to increase the operational ability of in-country humanitarian agencies to reach the most vulnerable communities and address their needs by advocating for the removal of any impediments to access.

  3. The guidance is a generic reference for the HCT in the context of the Philippines and does not supersede existing international humanitarian guidelines and national policies. This guidance will be updated as conditions evolve or in the occurrence of major policy revisions.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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