Mayors recommend lockdown of island

The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Catanduanes Chapter headed by San Andres Mayor Peter C. Cua is recommending a lockdown of the entire island province to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading among the local population.

SAN ANDRES MAYOR PETER CUA (center, in white shirt) discusses with members of the LMP Catanduanes Chapter his proposal that the local chief executives of the 11 towns recommend a total lockdown of the entire island province to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of people from Metro Manila arrived on the island ahead of the quarantine

Cua and the other local chief executives – Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr. of Virac, Juan Rodulfo of Bato, Francisco Camano Jr. of San Miguel, Emeterio Tarin of Viga, Remegio Villaluna of Bagamanoc, Cesar Robles of Panganiban, Glenda Aguilar of Caramoran and Vicente Tayam Jr. of Gigmoto – unanimously approved the resolution last Monday afternoon during an emergency meeting at Kemji Resort & Restaurant.

Only Baras Mayor Jose Paolo Teves III and Pandan Mayor Honesto Tabligan II were absent, although the latter sent a representative who arrived later.

Under the proposed lockdown, the province will bar entry to all persons, including those who work in Catanduanes and regularly return to the mainland on the weekend, after a 48-hour notice. However, there will be exceptions, with only those involved in delivering cargoes, especially food supplies, and health personnel and patients bound for the mainland.

“Daing ibang solusyon kundi total lockdown,” Panganiban Mayor Cesar Robles said as he expressed support for the measure initiated by Mayor Cua who heads the LMP.

Cua said the family-owned Regina Shipping Lines would sustain a big loss since it would be allowed to carry only cargo but the lockdown needs to be implemented.

More than 2,000 travelers, mostly from coronavirus-hit Metro Manila, have arrived at San Andres port since Friday, March 13, a day after President Duterte placed the National Capital Region under a community quarantine starting Sunday.

Mayor Sarmiento agreed with the decision, expressing his view that allowing more people in would present more problems that Virac could handle.

“We do not need to lock down our towns’ borders, only the province,” he said, noting that the LGU had monitored at least 500 people arriving at the capital town’s port as of Sunday noon.

He cited the case in Baras in which a Virac health worker delivering medicine to the town was stopped at a checkpoint and required to present a certification from the capital town’s Rural Health Unit.

On the other hand, Bato’s Rodulfo disclosed that his town has implemented the self-quarantine protocol for recent arrivals, even facing resistance from the parent of one arrival in barangay Tilis.

Mayor Tayam remarked that without the lockdown, it would be very hard to trace and keep hold of those people who need to be monitored.

On the other hand, the mayors also said they could follow Pandan’s lead in implementing a curfew so as to limit the movement of people in their localities. Public drinking, basketball tournaments and other activities involving many people would also be prohibited.

In Panganiban, Mayor Robles said, he managed to convince the management of a cockpit to cancel a scheduled derby although the activity was still legal as it was being held before the March 15 deadline.

Mayor Cua bared that Twin Rock Beach Resort is now closed after a foreign-looking guest tried to check-in and caused some panic among resort personnel.

Also closed for the same reason are the Metrowalk area of Virac Town Center, with its grocery to remain open.

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