The Bacolod City Government honored NIATF-Visayas chief implementer Major General (Retired) Melquiades “Mel” Feliciano, his wife Mia Fe Feliciano, and four members of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
General Feliciano has been overseeing the Bacolod City Operations Center (EOC) for two months now since its creation. He brought with him Mrs. Feliciano, a nurse by profession with extensive clinical background and patient care experience in the United States.
Aside from the plaques of appreciation, the Feliciano spouses were conferred of the title as the “First Adopted Couple” of Bacolod in its 82 years of cityhood.
General Feliciano was accompanied by his support team from OPAPP, who were also given plaques of appreciation: Jessica Banganan, Marjorie Quiles, Johnnel Rañeses, and Adrianne Paulo Reales.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, head of EOC-Task Force, led the giving of plaques of appreciation and token to them, during the Testimonial Dinner and Appreciation Night at the Bacolod City Government Center Saurday [Oct. 31].
The mayor was assisted by Vice Mayor El Cid Familairan, chair of the Bacolod IATF; City Administrator Em Ang, executive director and deputy for administration and operations of the EOC; Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the Quarantine Centers Action Team; Councilor Lady Gles Pallen, president of Liga ng mga Barangay; and Councilor Ayesha Joy Villaflor, chair of the Action Team on APORs (Authorized Persons Outside of Residence).
Among the other attendees during the appreciation program were First Lady Elsa Leonardia, Secretary to the Mayor Atty. Edward Joseph Cuansing, City Legal Officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, Department of the Interior and Local Government-Bacolod City director Ma. Joy Maredith Madayag, and Bacolod City Police Office city director Pol. Col. Manuel Placido.
General Feliciano was among the members of the team deployed by President Rodrigo Duterte to Bacolod last August during the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases in the City.
Feliciano and his wife were originally scheduled to supervise the Bacolod EOC for one month, specifically from September 1 to 30, but the couple decided to stay to continue advising, coaching and guiding the task force until such time it can “competently and confidently” stand on its own.
Leonardia wrote President Rodrigo Duterte a letter appealing for help last August in view of the urgent COVID-19 crisis in Bacolod, which resulted in the deployment of the assistance team including Feliciano.
In her speech, Ang pointed out that when General Feliciano first arrived in the City on September 1, Bacolod was in its “worst” in terms of battling COVID-19.
“We had the highest number of active cases, highest number of COVID-19 deaths and an overwhelmed healthcare system. There were unavoidable waves of demoralizing news that can destroy morale quickly. But General Mel and Ma’am Mia, together with our dedicated volunteers – Dr. Hector Gayares, Dr. Chris Sorongon, and John Dave Dueñas – stayed with us and pulled us through the toughest times,” Ang said.
She added: “Thank you for being our guiding light in those dark days of the COVID crisis. You are leaving us now with a functionally stable Emergency Operations Center and we are ready to address the challenges that come with any type of public health emergency.“
In response, General Feliciano said: “When we were newcomers here and we did not know anybody, I noticed and observed the tension of everyone. They were probably thinking ‘What would this couple do here? How will they do it? Will it be the militarization of EOC?’ Probably, everyone realized the real intent eventually.”
He added that the progress the EOC has so far made was due to the “trust, confidence, and motivation” of the task force officials and personnel.
Feliciano, in acknowledging the dedication of all the people behind the EOC, further said: “Now I can say that the EOC is institutionalized with all the systems working effectively. This would not have been seen without the hard work of the EOC.”*/CITY PIO