CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said the city has to abide by the national government’s decision placing the city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from June 15 to 30 but he will, nevertheless, appeal for reconsideration.
He said he will ask that the city remain under general community quarantine (GCQ).
“But if they still see that ECQ is best for our beloved city, as a public servant, I will humbly accept the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force and the President,” Labella said.
“Just like the Sinulog dance offered to Señor Sto. Niño… this is our one step backward before going two steps forward,” he quipped.
Labella still believes that a GCQ is justified.
“The data I see do not warrant restrictions set forth by an enhanced community quarantine,” he said.
As of June 15, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the city is 3,613, with 1,716 of them active cases.
The total number of recoveries is 1,874 or 52 percent while the total number of deaths is 39 or 1 percent.
While the city is working on its appeal, Labella assured to fast-track hospital capacity to accommodate more patients. He is also advocating for more testing laboratories to hasten their discharge.
He said the city will continue to augment the manpower of hospitals, although he did not expound on how this will be achieved.
In the meantime, Labella asked for everyone’s cooperation with the guidelines that he is set to issue in response to and in compliance with the IATF decision.
Archival: City failed
Three members of the City Council also expressed their take on the recent IATF announcement.
“It’s a step back unfortunately but let’s focus on solutions and strategies now to be able to move forward and balance health, hunger and the economy. Stricter enforcement, closer coordination and public cooperation are needed,” said Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr.
Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid said ECQ is the answer to flatten the curve.
“GCQ is the cause of the spike of COVID here in Cebu City. Both the government and the people were complacent. There were no more checkpoints. People should know the truth that the hospitals are exhausted already. Doctors and nurses are now sick presuming and some confirmed to be positive,” said Mabatid.
Councilor Nestor Archival said the city being reverted to ECQ is unfortunate despite the effort and money spent to contain COVID-19.
“It is a clear sign that we failed,” said Archival.
Archival said he observed that the city was “too much confident;” it focused on rapid testing more than isolating and tracing; it based the “readiness and achievement” to fight COVID-19 on recovered patients, among others.
“We trust people who are loyal to the party who are supposed to deliver the life-saving goods to the barangay constituents, but deliver only to their party friends and relatives leaving others hungry and complaining,” Archival citing another observation.
“We only rely our plans and decisions from DOH, Facebook reactions, OPAV, business group, trusted few, but City Council, Youth, civil society, doctors and hospitals are not part,” he added.
Archival believes that the executive department should immediately draw a participative plan to fight the virus.
In Talisay City, Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas said he was surprised with the Inter-Agency Task Force’s decision putting the city on a modified enhanced community quarantine status but was told he can appeal the decision.
Gullas said he spoke with IATF chief implementer Carlito Galvez right after the announcement on Monday and was told that the decision was based on the data the Department of Health-7’s epidemiologists’ gave to the task force.
“I was surprised but I will never be someone who will question the decision. Maybe the data showed that we needed to be in MECQ,” said Gullas.
He said he will consult first the rest of the Talisay City government, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and other leaders before deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.
Additional data yesterday showed that Talisay had seven new recoveries, putting the total to 43. There are 59 active cases and 16 deaths.
Because Talisay is under MECQ, public transportation is not available in the city and business operations fewer. People, except those authorized, are also not allowed to stay outside their homes.
“To all Talisaynons, I am deeply sorry that we have to go through this again. I’m as surprised as you are. (I) will update you as I have more details. Thank you and again I apologize for any inconvenience this will cause you,” Gullas said.
Starting last Monday, the city government has started the city-wide distribution of a sack of rice for each family, regardless of economic status.
For those living in boarding houses, a 25-kilo sack of rice will have to be shared by three boarders.
Garcia: MGCQ would have been justified
Meanwhile, Garcia maintained that the statistics of the province would have qualified it to transition to MGCQ. IATF has placed the province under GCQ until the end of this month.
“We would have qualified for an MGCQ but the reason why GCQ gihapon ang probinsya (is) precisely because na-ECQ og balik ang Cebu City. And it was difficult to justify how the two extremes could exist in one island,” she said.
Cebu province has a population of 3.2 million. It has 269 active cases and 38 deaths. The recoveries were pegged at 133 the last count. JMD (FREEMAN)