2 metro LGUs await instructions from IATF as Cebu reverts to MECQ

ASIDE from strengthening the implementation of health protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 in Cebu City, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has set up five border control points at the boundaries with the cities of Mandaue and Talisay starting at 12:01 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

Cebu Province, as well as the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 1 to 15.

According to Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, CCPO deputy city director for operation, the border control points are located at the South Road Properties near the Il Corso Mall and in Barangay Bulacao in the south and in Sitio Tintay, Barangay Talamban; Panagdait Road in Barangay Kasambagan; and the North Reclamation Area near the Cebu Port Authority in the north.

Parilla said the police who are deployed in the border control points will not be looking for quarantine passes.

He said they will not prevent anyone from entering the city, adding that they are there to ensure that motorists comply with minimum health standards.

He said they will stop all vehicles to make sure there are no minors on board.

He said they are still waiting for guidelines from the City Government and the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“We cannot check for quarantine passes like before. So far, we will just be implementing health protocol while we wait for instructions from the LGU (local government unit) and the IATF,” Parilla said in Cebuano.

He urged employees, especially those who work at night, to carry their certificate of employment.

He said they apprehended many curfew violators during their operation Friday night, July 30. They were brought to the holding area of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement. However, some were just told to go home like habal-habal drivers who were waiting for customers.

Parilla said those working the night shift and other authorized persons outside residence and essential workers are allowed out after curfew, which starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 4 a.m.

In Mandaue City, the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) will start conducting random motor stop operations, random checkpoints, and mobile border control points to ensure the compliance of health protocol.

Lt. Col. Mercy Villaro, MCPO information officer, told SunStar Cebu they will be checking public utility vehicles (PUVs) to make sure passengers wear face masks and face shields and observe social distancing and the PUVs’ passenger capacity is not exceeded.

Villaro said they will be coordinating with members of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team), who are allowed to issue citations to quarantine violators.

Villaro said they, too, are waiting for further instructions from superiors. In the meantime, they will ensure that residents comply with minimum health protocols and existing city ordinances and executive orders.

Aside from checkpoints, Villaro said the MCPO will continue to conduct “Oplan Pahimangno.”

She said they tapped barangay officials to help them enforce minimum health protocols in the interior portions of barangays.

Villaro said they will only reprimand violators, but those who resist will be taken into custody for disobeying authorities.

Violators of the liquor ban and the curfew will be sent to the holding station at the new building of the Department of General Sevices in Barangay Labogon.

In a text message to SunStar Cebu on July 31, Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes said if the IATF approves their appeal to remain under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), they will adopt the guidelines set by the IATF and coordinate with neighboring LGUs.

He said public transportation will continue to operate in the city, adding that they will not require residents to carry a quarantine pass when going out.

Lapu-Lapu City has also appealed to remain under MGCQ.

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor Rama has decided to also appeal to the IATF to allow Cebu City to remain under MGCQ.

In his appeal letter to the IATF, Rama wrote down the measures the City has taken to slow down the spread of Covid-19, as well as plans to counter the upward trend in cases.

These include the following:

* Commission more temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF) to augment existing facilities;

* Increase the capacity of the Cebu City Quarantine Center;

* Convert donated dormitories of the Department of the Public Works and Highways into a TTMF with a total capacity of 62 beds;

* Raise the number of quarantine hotels and expand beds allocated to Covid-19 patients at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center;

*Open two additional cluster clinics to cater to individuals experiencing influenza-like illness;

* Set up a field hospital in coordination with the Philippine National Red Cross; and

* Open a Covid-19 ward at the new Cebu City Medical Center building.

Rama said they’ve held two command conferences with the Philippine National Police to increase police presence and enforce health protocols in transport terminals and seaports, as well as deploy force multipliers.

He said the City has closed parks and playgrounds to deter mass gatherings.

Rama said the City will hire 200 nurses to augment the manpower in the health care facilities.

He said the contact tracing and extraction team under the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has also been reinforced and improved to lessen the extraction time of positive patients.

Rama said the City Government is “extra mindful of striking a balance between health and economy.”

Should the IATF deny the appeal, he said measures are already in place to implement the MECQ.

He also assured that public transportation will continue to operate.

However, PUVs will be monitored to make sure these are not overloaded. Erring drivers will be given citation tickets, said City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, Jeepney Task Force chairman.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said based on the latest IATF resolution, establishments not allowed under MECQ include dine-in services (however, outdoor or al fresco dine-in services are allowed with 50 percent capacity); beauty salons, nail spas, and other personal care services; entertainment venues with live performances; recreational venues; amusement parks; outdoor and indoor sports courts; and outdoor tourist attractions.

City Councilor Phillip Zafra, committee on peace and order chairman, said majority of apprehended violators were caught not wearing face masks.

They also rescued minors found outdoors and violators of the curfew. (JJL, KFD, AYB / PJB)