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By: Mylen Manto, Vanessa Almeda | Published Friday, June 26, 2020
Workers who need to cross Cebu City on the way to another part of Cebu Province must secure a Transit Vehicle Pass to be issued by the Cebu Provincial Government as stricter border controls resume today, June 26. (Lito Tecson)

Starting today, June 26, workers from the Province who will have to pass through Cebu City in going to another local government unit (LGU) in Cebu Province to work will have to get passes from the Cebu Provincial Government.

Provincial passes have to be secured as well for all vehicles and cargo trucks.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said reinstituting the strict border controls is meant to arrest the steady rise of positive cases of Covid-19 in the Province especially the areas that are near Cebu City.

Executive Order (EO) No. 17-H series of 2020 issued by the governor revoked an earlier EO giving exempted workers access to travel between the Province and Cebu City.

All exempted sectors who will cross Cebu City in going to other towns and cities under the jurisdiction of the Province will have to secure a travel pass. 

“They will have to apply and that we will be very, very strict. They will be given a transit vehicle pass (TVP). It’s just point to point. I don’t think daghan kaayo ni sila,” the governor said.

The TVP will contain the information on the vehicle’s plate number, a control number and the validity period. 

For workers from the Province who need to report for work in Cebu City, they are given the option to stay in the city or be out of job if they wish to return home. 

“We have served notice already in the case of these workers that are employed in these supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies and other essential services. They will have to choose as I already announced about two, three nights ago, you have to choose whether you will stay here or you have until tonight (Thursday) to go back to your LGU,” Garcia said. 

Those working in the business outsourcing process (BPOs) are not included in the list of exemptions enumerated in the latest EO.

“We have to put our foot down there. BPOs kung naa diri (Cebu City) they have to house them, di na pwede muanhi diri unya mo uli. They are not included in the list of exempted persons,” she said, adding that employers must look for their employees’ accommodations or adopt a work-from-home arrangement. 

The cargo vehicle passes will be issued on a 15-day basis and will also have a validity period.

The skeletal work and media passes will also have a control number, specific areas for allowed travel, and validity period. Previously-issued skeletal and media passes are still valid.

“You need not apply because there were already those that had been cleared and issued these skeletal workforce pass and media pass,” she said.

New passes will be issued by the Capitol for those that will need a new pass but she said this will be scrutinized. 

“Because what we are doing is to limit, as much as we can, the entry of those coming from Cebu City and going back to the province or on the other hand, we are trying to limit those that are coming from our LGUs in the province muanhi og syudad, ma-exposed diris syudad mubalik napud, possibly becoming carriers themselves of the disease,” Garcia said.

“So, we go back to where we were when were very, very strict,” she added.

From March 23 until May 31, Cebu Province recorded a total of 162 Covid-19 cases in a span of 69 days. 

However, when border restrictions eased from June 1 until June 23, the positive cases reached 589.

“If you speak about increase obviously, mas dako og rason nga nisaka ang atong cases sa Province was when we eased up restrictions between Cebu City and the Province,” she said.

Meanwhile, Garcia assured that the adjustments in the guidelines for the entry and exit of provincial residents passing through Cebu City will be cascaded to the Cebu City Police and the Police Regional Office to avoid misunderstanding in checkpoints. 

This was clarified by the governor after some residents complained that they were not able to enter Cebu City because checkpoints will not honor the Capitol passes. 

“That is why we will need to coordinate very closely with the CPPO including General (Albert) Ferro and Major General (Robert) Angcan. They were present in the meeting yesterday (June 24) where I had stated that we had signed EO 17-H in the presence of DENR Sec. (Roy) Cimatu, which again instituted strict border control between Cebu City and the Province,” she explained. 

The Capitol will be providing the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines a copy of the EO and sample of the provincial passes. 

Meanwhile, Garcia said that companions of dialysis patients during a scheduled session in Cebu City must be on a strict home quarantine upon returning to their hometowns.

“We remind our LGUs that the protocol we signed on that particular EO for dialysis patients shall be revisited and enforced,” Garcia said. (Mylen Manto, Vanessa Almeda)