Total lockdown in GenSan looms – mayor

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 Mar) – Mayor Ronnel Rivera today said a total lockdown looms in the city if the situation will call for it.

General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera (left) listens to Dr. Jett Gajete-Oco explain the gravity of COVID-19 that is spreading across the country. GSCIO photo

“We are on a calibrated response and I have asked all department heads to prepare for the worse in case we need to lock down the city,” the mayor disclosed.

Although there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the city, several persons have been placed under observation.

“Our problem is we cannot send the swab samples to Manila because of the travel ban in Luzon,” he revealed even as he continues to caution residents here from exposing themselves in crowded places.

He is hopeful the national government can address the situation about test samples.

“I hope the national government can make special flights using military assets to ferry these samples. This is a race against time,” he warned.

General Santos City began imposing a 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew hours on Sunday and has scaled down local government operations to a minimum with only health workers, the police and disaster units still in full force.

Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. earlier sponsored a resolution giving legal weapon for the city government to impose curfew hours.

Violators will be brought to the city-owned Lagao Gym for “safekeeping and processing” before they will be sent home when the 4 a.m. curfew hour is lifted.

Rivera said he is open to declaring a lockdown in General Santos after the neighboring cities of Davao and Cotabato decided to close its borders to incoming traffic beginning Thursday.

“In a lockdown, we will allow people to leave but they cannot enter in the city,” the city mayor explained.

The mayor added that it could include barring people from going out of their homes.

“We will calibrate our response according to where we are in the ongoing crisis,” he further said.

Rivera likewise said he already asked department heads to prepare to mobilize contingency plans, including rationing food supplies if the COVID-19 crisis escalates.

Rivera is the head of the regional peace and order council as well as the Regional Development Council in Region 12 that covers the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan and the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

The city has already canceled flights at the General Santos City Airport.