‘No Movement Sunday’ turns Koronadal into a ‘ghost town’

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 19 April) —  This city turned into a ghost town Sunday as authorities strictly imposed the first “No Movement Sunday” policy to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease  (COVID-19).

Police Lieutenant Joenary Castañares, chief of the city’s Police Community Relations, said they have set up various checkpoints across the locality, in tandem with the city’s traffic unit, to strictly implement the “No Movement Sunday.”

Two Indian nationals were briefly held in the morning after they went out to get their food supplies delivered from nearby General Santos City.

No vehicles move around the rotunda in Koronadal City on Sunday, 19 April 2020. Commonly called the “round ball,” the rotunda is a major landmark in a city that is implementing a “No Movement Sunday” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Castañares said they were released for humanitarian consideration, after law enforcers verified that they just went out to briefly meet up with the Indian food supplier from GenSan.

“By and large, people in the city followed the ‘no movement day’ by staying at their houses,” he said on Sunday morning.

MindaNews went out Sunday morning to see the main streets empty of people and vehicles, except for a few, and far between, frontliners such as medical workers, barangay tanods (village watchmen), and food delivery trucks, among others, plying the roads.

Also except for hospitals and pharmacies, business came to a halt as grocery stores of malls and the main public market were closed in compliance with Ordinance No. 9 Series of 2020 that placed the city under an enhanced community quarantine from April 13 to April 30.

Under the ordinance, the city government grouped the 27 barangays into three clusters, with residents of each cluster allowed to go out only twice a week to buy food and other essential transactions.

A color-coded “movement pass” is issued to each family in every cluster so they will be allowed to go out in the streets to buy food and other essential supplies.

Every Sunday until April 30 is a “no movement day.”

This city is the capital of South Cotabato and as the seat of government of Soccsksargen or Region 12, hosts the regional offices of national government agencies.

Soccskargen straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

General Santos Drive, a main thoroughfare in Koronadal City, is deserted as the city implements “No Movement Sunday” on 19 April 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Mayor Eliordo Ogena has instructed the police to apprehend and file cases against violators of the enhanced community quarantine in the city.

“Our lives are at stake. Please stay at home to help the government fight the spread of the coronavirus disease,” Ogena said.

Lt. Col. Joefel Siason, city police chief, urged the public to follow the ECQ, noting that violators would be slapped with violations of Article 151 of the revised penal Code for resisting and disobedience to persons in authority.

The penalty for such offense is a fine of not more than P100,000 and imprisonment of up to six months, Siason said.  This penalty is imposed on those who resist or seriously disobey any person in authority, or the agents of the person in authority while in the performance of their official duties.

The penalty of arresto menor or 2,000 to 20,000 pesos fine is imposed if the disobedience is “not of a serious nature.”

Local police data showed that at least 30 persons would be facing charges for violating the ECQ.

As of Sunday, the city has one confirmed COVID-19 case and onlyt two of the 14 suspected COVID-19 patients remain in hospital confinement. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)