North Cotabato placed under MGCQ to fix broken economy, says governor

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 01 June) – North Cotabato was placed under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status for 15 days starting Monday to restart economic activities shuttered in the fight to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Gov. Nancy Catamco said.

Catamco, however, noted that “people’s safety could not be guaranteed under MGCQ.”

She issued Executive Order (EO) 68 placing the province under MGCQ from June 1, 2020 up to June 15, 2020.

Under EO 68, all borders of the province would be opened to all kinds of vehicles, including mass transportation.

“Under MGCQ, “everything would be relaxed.” Individuals entering the province will not be required to show quarantine ID passes or any documents like medical certificates from rural health units where they come from,” Catamco said.

However, police and military personnel, traffic enforcers and CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit), as frontliners, will continue to man the province’s border checkpoints, according to EO 68.

In North Cotabato, there are at least seven border checkpoints: one each at the Carmen-Damulog, Bukidnon area; tri-boundary of Arakan-Davao-Bukidnon; Pikit-Pagagawan, Maguindanao; Pigcawayan-Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao; Tulunan-Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; Makilala-Bansalan, Davao del Sur; and, Banisilan-Wao, Lanao del Sur.

In Kidapawan City, which is also under MGCQ, Mayor Joseph Evangelista said that they will still require mass transportation like buses and vans to prepare a passenger manifest so that contact tracing would be easy once there are reports of positive COVID-19 cases who boarded their vehicles.

Also, all passengers, especially those coming from Davao City, would be required to undergo body temperature checks once they disembark at the city’s overland terminal, according to the mayor.

Under MGCQ, Catamco has allowed hotels, restaurants, resorts, and games and leisure establishments to operate, provided they will only accept 50 percent of the usual numbers of their clients or customers.

Religious gatherings are also now allowed, provided that they strictly follow the basic or minimum health protocols like putting up of hand washing and foot bath area, placing alcohol and other disinfectants at the entrance, no hand shaking and hugging during congregation, and to observe physical distancing at one meter apart distance.

“We all know that at this time when we have no one to turn to, we can only call our Almighty to protect us from COVID-19, so we now allow religious gatherings like masses, fellowships, and praise and worship for Christian believers,” she said.

Meantime, despite the MGCQ, the province is set to return at least 6,000 additional Cotabateńos who are stranded in different areas in the Philippines.

“We are committed to rescue them. We will do it despite the fact that all of our borders are already opened,” the governor said.