Undeterred by the unexpected suspension of their medical-dental and humanitarian mission by the provincial government, the United Catanduanes San Diego (UCSD) nevertheless decided to bring their “Gift of Love” packs of medicines and various goods to 10 towns of the island through the Diocese of Virac.
Dr. Oscar Enriquez, a native of Virac who has settled in the States, told the Tribune that they have been allowed by the Bishop of Virac, Msgr. Manolo delos Santos, to utilize the different parish churches in distributing to the beneficiaries packs of toiletries and health kits, school supplies, T-shirts, slippers, foodstuffs, reading glasses and other imported goods which the mission members bought out of their own pockets.
The group began in the capital town last Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, followed by Gigmoto and Baras on Tuesday (Feb. 11), Viga, Panganiban and Bagamanoc on Feb. 12, Pandan and Caramoran on Feb. 13 and Bato and San Miguel on Feb. 14.
As the town of San Andres is a regular beneficiary of similar medical and humanitarian missions, the UCSD opted to donate boxes of pediatric medicines to the Rural Health Unit.
The group of about 30-plus US residents from Texas, California, Florida and Arizona arrived last Friday, only to find out on Facebook that their mission had been suspended allegedly due to the 2019 novel corona virus (nCoV).
In the Feb. 6 memorandum sent by Acting Governor Shirley Araojo to all municipal mayors, it was advised that the provincial government is “momentarily suspending all Foreign-Assisted MEDICAL and HUMANITARIAN MISSION to the Province because of the worldwide outbreak of the 2019-Novel Corona Virus.”
The acting governor added that “for the time being, we did not recommend the Medical and Humanitarian Mission” offered by UCSD for said reason and that “the suspension is deemed automatically lifted after health authorities has cleared the country is free from the 2019-Novel Corona Virus.”
The memorandum was issued just a week after the Catanduanes International Association, Inc. (CIA) conducted a similar mission at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center from Jan. 20-24, 2020, with welcome dinners paid for by local government units.