In the shift from Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the Province of Cebu has shown its mettle by maintaining an orderly transition.
Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco, president of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, on behalf of the 44 town mayors and the adopted cities, expressed gratitude to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for presenting a “clear roadmap by way of executive orders, guidelines, and coordination.”
“Wala gyud nagkagubot ang Probinsya sa Sugbo, precisely because there has always been a very clear roadmap and framework presented by way of executive orders, guidelines, and the like, and proper prior coordination,” Frasco accentuated.
“And this proper prior coordination has incede in our constituencies the culture of caution; that sometimes siguro istrikto kaayo ta, but in the end it has saved us and it has kept our cases low. And so this is really to the credit of Governor Gwen and all our mayors, that our unity in times of crisis has lifted Cebu out of this adversity, so congratulations natong tanan,” Frasco added.
Before the Cebu Province transitioned to GCQ last May 20, a Mayors’ Meeting was carried out in Balaban. Prior to the lockdown ordered on March 30, the Province was already in a “creeping ECQ.”
In January, Garcia began the consultation, consensus and action against what was then a “mystery pneumonia,” which later was identified as a “novel coronavirus.”
At the time, not much information about the risks of getting infected was available yet but she immediately tasked the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) to come up with measures to ensure the protection of the Cebuanos.
She pushed for a proactive and preventive measure, like how the Capitol managed to keep Cebu Province free from the African Swine Fever (ASF) that was wreaking havoc on other provinces’ hog industry.
On February 3, as new cases of the novel coronavirus, officially named Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), slowly increased in different countries, the Cebu Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 was created to formulate and implement policies and guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus in province.
Later on, the Capitol released cash assistance to the towns and component cities for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their frontliners and food packs for their constituents.
In just a few weeks, the province’s situation became a “creeping ECQ.” Garcia issued a series of Executive Orders (EO) for the gradual closure of ports for domestic air and sea travel, 24-hour province-wide curfew for students and senior citizens, strict border controls, movement restrictions, temporary closure of non-essential businesses, and operations of essential companies under limited workforce capacity.
Further, Frasco pointed out that “while we need to protect life, we need to balance it with resuscitating our economy; one of the most essential factors of a running and thriving economy is the ability to move — the importance of mobility.”
She urged, on behalf of the mayors, that “hopefully, the LTFRB 7 would be more liberal and reasonable in the application of the regulations as far as public transport is concerned. The IATF guidelines are very clear as far as stating that in GCQ and MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) areas, the movement of persons shall be allowed —from GCQ to GCQ [zones], all the more in MGCQ.”
In an emergency Mayors’ Meeting last May 30, it was agreed that Cebu Province will lift its border controls by June 12, symbolic of Independence Day. As of this writing, the governor is to set to make an appeal on the assessment of the IATF based on its Resolution No. 41 which places the Province still under GCQ.
In a meeting with Garcia last May 29, LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto, Jr. said that the 50-percent reduction in seating capacity is still to be observed and that based on hierarchy the first to operate are buses and mini buses, to be followed by modernized jeepneys, UV Expresses, and traditional jeepneys if need arises.
As for clamor to lift the ban imposed upon couples onboard motorcycles, Montealto clarified, “ang reason anang no-backride policy is mag-queuing nya mo-traffic na ta kay mo-verify pa man if magtiayon ba gyud.”
Frasco stressed that there are only 27 tourist buses plying in and out of Liloan, only at most twice a day.
“There are hardly any UV Expresses but in contrast there are over a thousand PUVs whose livelihood are being affected because of the denial of these mode of transportation which applies to tricycles as well. I believe it would be very difficult to resuscitate our economy, because unsaon man pagngadto sa imong trabahoan kon wa kay masakyan, or kon mahal ra kaayo ang plete,” Frasco stressed.
A separate meeting to take up this concern is set on Wednesday, June 3 to finalize the Province’s direction in the new normal in public transportation.
This meeting is set to tackle the continued use of Lantaw Restaurant at the Cebu South Coastal Road as a terminal for buses plying the southern and midwest sections of Cebu, while CityMall in Consolacion remains as terminal for public transport to northern Cebu.
Mandaue and Cebu Cities are set to develop a public transport system to cater to commuters going into the said cities. (Eleanor Valeros)