BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas has issued an executive order allowing the resumption of travel from Bacolod City to Iloilo City effective today, but fastcraft operations may resume early next week yet.
Travel between the two cities had been halted earlier amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Maritime Industry Authority has called a meeting tomorrow of shipping lines, which include fastcraft operators, with the Philippine Port Authority, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard and BREDCO port officials to discuss the health protocols and travel documents required for the resumption of sea travel, Frank Carbon, Weesam adviser, said.
After this, the shipping lines will submit their schedule of travel to the MARINA since only a 50 percent passenger capacity will be allowed per vessel, Carbon said.
This means sea travel between the two cities may resume early next week yet, he said.
Carbon said from 19 fastcraft trips between Iloilo and Bacolod a day in the past, he expects only six since they do not expect a surge of passengers.
Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental provincial commander, said that as of last night, they had not received any document stating when fastcraft travel between the two cities would resume.
He said they were waiting for notices of resumption of travel from the fastcraft operators.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said he is agreeable to the resumption of travel between the two cities and will thresh out health protocols to be observed.
Both cities are currently under General Community Quarantine.
Treñas, in Executive Order No. 167 Series of 2020 lifting the ban on travel between the two cities, said all passengers must strictly observe and apply the minimum health standards, safety protocols and use of health declaration cards.
All persons who knowingly violate such health and safety protocols that could endanger the lives of residents of Iloilo City will face appropriate administrative and/or criminal charges, he added.*