Sarangani imposes heightened general community quarantine; South Cotabato, GenSan to follow

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – Heightened quarantine measures have been implemented in Sarangani province while South Cotabato and this city are set to follow in the next two days as local governments in the area agreed to consolidate efforts to contain the deadly 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The entire province of Sarangani was placed under general community quarantine starting Thursday based on Executive Order (EO) No. 08 issued on the same day by Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon.

Solon issued the declaration a day after the Regional Peace and Order Council and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Region 12 recommended the implementation of enhanced community quarantine and control measures to address the Covid-19 threat.

It also urged local government units to synchronize their curfew hours to complement with the region-wide control mechanisms.

Engr. Gerald Faciol, assistant provincial administrator of Sarangani, said the general community quarantine further heightened the previous preventive measures implemented by the local government but noted that it was not a lockdown.

He said it was supported by the seven municipal mayors, Sarangani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Under EO No. 8, the official said the curfew hours in the entire province were set from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

He said all non-essential travels to and from the province were prohibited and those allowed were only for health services, work-related, emergency response, peace and order, and delivery of food and other basic commodities.

The movement of people, especially those considered vulnerable to infection like the elderly, minors, pregnant women, minors and those suffering from various illnesses, is discouraged and everyone should just stay home if necessary, he said.

“Disinfection activities will be conducted in the entire province every four days, focusing on areas with persons under monitoring and patients under investigation for Covid-19,” he said.

In South Cotabato, the provincial government will implement starting midnight Friday a 14-day enhanced community quarantine and calibrated total lockdown in the entire province.

Lawyer Marnito Cosep, provincial legal officer, said in a press conference the move was decided during a meeting on Thursday afternoon of the province’s inter-agency task force against Covid-19.

He said non-residents of the province will not be allowed entry while returning residents will only get passage if they agree to undergo mandatory 14-day home quarantine.

The movement of medical personnel, emergency and rescue volunteers and staff, civil servants and persons seeking medical attention will be allowed, he said.

Cosep said they will open special lanes in the highway checkpoints for vehicles delivering food supplies and related goods.

The operation of all types of public transportation will be suspended during the lockdown period unless lifted sooner by the governor, he said.

He said they encouraged shopping malls and related establishments to only open their supermarkets, pharmacies and outlets selling essential commodities.

“We have to do this as we observed that many people were still moving around and going to our malls although the preemptive lockdown was already in effect,” he said.

The provincial government placed the entire province last Tuesday under preemptive lockdown to limit the movement of residents due to the Covid-19 threat.

“Our city and municipal governments are enjoined to implement mechanisms to limit the movement of our people during the lockdown,” Cosep added.

In this city, the local government will also implement enhanced community quarantine measures starting Monday based on a recommendation from the city’s inter-agency task force against Covid-19.

Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting city health officer and co-chairperson of the task force, said the move is aimed to encourage residents to remain in their homes.

“The best way to stop the spread of the disease is for everyone to stay home,” she told reporters.

The city government, which has been implementing travel restriction and curfew since March 14 as control measure against Covid-19, had convened various agencies and stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

Among those considered was the distribution of food packs to ease the impact of the quarantine to poor residents. (MindaNews/With a report from Richelyn Gubalani)