BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Regional Task Force and Regional Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases yesterday clarified that there was no declaration of lockdown for the entire Western Visayas,
Juan Jovian Ingeniero, chairperson of the Western Visayas Inter Agency Task Force and Jose Roberto Nuñez, chairman of the RTF Covid-19, in a joint issued statement, said the advisory they have released merely adopted the provisions of National IATF Resolution No. 104, wherein only “essential travelers” from National Capital Region and its travel bubble circuit that includes Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal area, shall be allowed to travel into and outside of Western Visayas from March 23 to April 4 this year.
The clarification was made after Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he was surprised at the decision of the RIATF to impose travel restrictions on Western Visayas without consulting local officials.
Treñas, who called the restrictions as a lockdown of sorts, said via Facebook that the RIATF should be ready to provide assistance to those who will be affected by the move.
“The whole Region 6 was placed on lockdown by the Regional IATF. I do not know if any of the LCEs have been consulted about this. Another kapalpakan. I demand that the Regional IATF consult the LCEs. In behalf of Iloilo City, I am demanding an explanation from the Regional IATF,” he said.
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, however, said the joint RTF and RIATF advisory “ somehow addresses our letter request” regarding the call for a travel moratorium by air, sea and land from Manila and Cebu to Negros Occidental.
But it also tells us we have the same idea on how to control the spike of Covid-19 positive individuals, Lacson said.
Lacson said he also expects less travel and less people coming to the province, because only essential individuals will only be allowed to travel.
Essential travelers are defined by RTF and RIATF, as those who will be allowed to travel to Region 6 from March 23 to April 4 as health and emergency frontline services personnel, government officials, duly-authorized humanitarian actors, persons travelling for medical or humanitarian reasons and those going to the airport for travel abroad,anyone crossing zones for work or business and going back home, as well as Returning Overseas Filipinos and Overseas Filipino Workers.
Returning residents of Western Visayas and inbound individuals from Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and National Capital Region, whose purpose is for vacation or leisure, will be temporarily restricted to enter the region, subject to the provision of NIATF, the RTF and RIATF advisory said.
But all travelers not coming from NCR and neighboring provinces are allowed to enter Western Visayas, subject to health protocols and travel requirements of concerned local government units.
The RIATF advisory also said that all flights and sea vessel trips in Region 6 are currently on normal operations to cater to essential travelers and returning residents from areas, which are not covered by the IATF resolution 104.
It did not issue stay-at-home order or closure of businesses and other establishments.
Western Visayas officials are being enjoined to ensure strict implementation and compliance with the minimum public health standards in all public and private work places.*