Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia is looking forward to his virtual meeting with Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson today to discuss the proposal to harmonize the travel policies of the city government and the Capitol.
On top of the agenda is the city’s proposed lifting of the negative RT-PCR result as a requirement for in-bound travelers from Manila.
The scheduled January 28 meeting with the governor was shared by Leonardia this morning in a live interview with Headstart host Karen Davila on ANC, where the mayor articulated that the LGU’s move was initiated to strike a balance between health and sustaining economic activities to minimize the impacts that the COVID-19 caused over the last two years.
“We have to learn how to live with the virus and adjust to it accordingly and cautiously” the mayor told the ANC host.
Leonardia defended his proposal to set aside the RT-PCR result as a requirement for home bound passengers, saying it is for compassionate reason and intended to ensure safe, easy and convenient way for travelers going to Bacolod.
He also dismissed criticisms made by some quarters who said lifting the negative RT-PCR result as a requirement was premature because of the current surge in COVID cases.
The city government, by virtue of Executive Order No. 3, also earlier eased the travel protocols between Bacolod and Iloilo, other areas of Western Visayas and Negros Oriental by allowing the entry of fully-vaccinated passengers without the need for RT-PCR results.
Partially vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers will be required to present only a negative Rapid Antigen Result from their LGU of origin.
The easing of travel policy, he said, was mainly because the entire Region 6 and Negros Oriental, which belongs to Region 7, are currently under Alert Level 3.
“We realized that we are all in the same alert level. When you talk of Panay and Negros or Bacolod and Iloilo, we are so inter-connected, inter-related that if we don’t have (ferry) trips between these two destinations, we will feel the impact on the economy,” he told Davila.
Because, we are trying to improve the economic activities (between the two islands), we decided to lift these requirements, he continued.
For close to two years now, Leonardia was hands-on in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and never travelled outside of Bacolod despite his being president of the 146-member League of Cities of the Philippines and as a member of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) representing the LGUs.
He shared with Davila that like many local governments, Bacolod had its share of the roller-coaster ride with the pandemic with the city currently on its fourth wave of surges.
“We had very rough times,” he recalled, citing that sometime in September and October last year, the city had 119 cases daily on the average.
The rate went down to 20 in November and only six in December 2021.
In fact, at the start of January 2022 on the first week of the new year, Bacolod had zero cases, he recalled.
Then all of a sudden, in a few days’ time, we started to hit double figures and up to three digits. Yesterday, we had 235 (new cases), he continued.
By World Health Organization and Department of Health standards, a LGU isconsideredreaching herd immunity once 70 percent of its target vaccinable population has already been fully inoculated.
Leonardia informed Davila that based on DOH figures, Bacolod, with its 590,000 vaccinable population, has already reached the 127 percent mark.
The mayor said Bacolod already vaccinated over 523,000 residents out 590,000, which translates to 88 percent. That means we only have to reach 67,000 people to achieve a 100 percent fully-vaccinated population, he explained.*