Davao Region to close borders; Sara orders suspension of all flights

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 Mar) – The Davao Region will close its borders starting 12:01 a.m. on Thursday as the Davao Region COVID-19 Task Force is set to enforce a 14-day suspension of land, sea, and air travels to help contain the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Soldiers belonging to Task Force Davao screen passengers at a checkpoint in Lasang, Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Created on Tuesday, the task force is being led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who has been designated as chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and Regional Development Council (RDC).

The task force, comprising various local chief executives and heads of other government agencies, has been formed to synergize the efforts of the region’s five provinces, six cities, and 43 municipalities in tackling COVID-19, the statement read.

The suspension may be reduced to seven days depending upon the “review of infectious disease specialist consultant.”

It added that residents could still leave the region any time prior to the regional lockdown but warned that they could no longer be granted entry once the borders are closed, at least for the next 14 days.

In Executive Orders 12 and 13 issued following the announcement on the 14-day border closure, Mayor Duterte ordered the suspension of domestic and international flights effective immediately in pursuance of Presidential Proclamation 922 placing the country “in a state of public health emergency in relation to national security.”

The suspension was issued two days after the mayor temporarily canceled Clark-Davao-Clark flights after most of the stranded Manila-Davao-Manila flights attempted to fly over to Davao via Clark, following the Resolution 11 issued by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force “banning all flights in and out of Metro Manila to contain the spread of the disease.”

“There is a need to abide by the IATF Resolution 11 prohibiting unnecessary travel and to enforce more stringent measures to prevent the virus from affecting Dabawenyos,” Duterte said.

The Davao International Airport has six international flights—the Cathay Dragon’s Davao-Hong Kong-Davao, Cebu Pacific’s Davao-Singapore-Davao, Garuda Indonesia’s Davao-Manado-Davao, Qatar Airways’ Davao-Qatar-Davao, SilkAir’s Davao-Singapore-Davao, and XiamenAir’s Davao-Quanzhou-Davao—and 21 domestic flights, serviced by various airlines.

The Davao-Hong Kong-Davao and Davao-Quanzhou-Davao flights have been suspended since February. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)