Davao City classified as  “restricted LGU” due to surge in COVID-19 cases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 November) – Davao City has been classified as a restricted local government unit (LGU) due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the city and the “full occupancy” of the COVID-19 beds in the state-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the main referral center, “and other hospitals.”

An association of doctors and medical directors in the city’s hospitals had earlier proposed to Mayor Sara Duterte to place the city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to further prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease but the mayor on Friday afternoon told the city-run Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), that the letter should be addressed to the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF).

On Friday evening, the mayor issued Executive Order 63 stating that the  RIATF-Davao Region had approved on November 12 the request of the city’s COVID-19 task force to put Davao City as a restricted local government unit.”

She also issued EO 62, providing for guidelines on enforcement of the prohibition on non-essential travel in the city.

EO 63 will be effective 5 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18.

Under EO 63, Duterte said the city sought the assistance of the  Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield for enforcement of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) and NON-APOR travel into Davao City “to insulate other Local Government Units (LGUs) from the effect of the surging cases in the city as well as to further protect the residents of Davao City.”

For health and emergency frontline services personnel; government officials, employees, government frontline personnel; duly-authorized humanitarian; and persons coming in for work or business, EO 63 provides that they must present company/office ID and certificate of employment or principal acknowledgement of labor/service for JTF COVID Shield, and company/ office travel order, and hotels and other similar accommodation establishments confirmation for those traveling into the city via land travel, and additional requirement of roundtrip tickets and “negative” reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results for those traveling via air travel.

The local government requires a certification of travel to access health service from a doctor, dentist, hospital, medical or allied medical institution for persons traveling for medical, dental or allied medical reasons with one driver and one assistant.

Persons whose travels are for the purpose of extraordinary humanitarian considerations or accessing national government agency/office service must present travel confirmation from city government of Davao, with a registration submitted at least five days before the intended date of travel and identification card used to register for a travel confirmation pass.

Non-residents of the city who need to go to Davao International Airport must present a confirmed plane ticket, and a travel pass for those persons through a permit from the LGU/PNP of origin who are traveling by land to other cities and municipalities.

The local government will also require a 24-hour to 72-hour RT-PCR test result and confirmation form destination LGU of pick-up vehicle or confirmation of private/public transportation arrangements from airport or bus terminals to destination LGU for bus, van, and air passengers arriving in the city.

For returning residents by land, air or sea, including locally stranded individuals, overseas Filipinos, and overseas Filipino Workers, a negative virus test result issued within 24 hours to 72 hours, and 14-day home quarantine, and a company/office travel order, ID or any document with Davao City address, and RT-PCR test result for returning city residents frequently traveling by land for work.

For individuals considered as non-APOR, the JTF COVID shield requires travel authority and additional requirements from the city for travel confirmation from Davao City LGU, ID used to register for a travel confirmation, and hotels and other similar accommodation establishments confirmation.

On the recommendation of private doctors to put the city under a stricter quarantine status, Duterte said this must be raised with the RIATF chaired by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Davao director Alex Roldan. She said the RIATF has been delegated with the authority to make a classification and impose a quarantine status on a local government  unit (LGU).

“It was not a request. It was a recommendation. We told them to raise their recommendation with the RIATF because it’s the correct body to discuss, recommend, and impose community quarantine for the LGU… Much like before, when IATF was the one making the announcement on the community quarantine classifications of cities and municipalities. Such function has been delegated to the RIATF,” she said.

The local chief executive said the local government did not receive an “appeal” for a “timeout” from the medical frontliners.

She added the letter was a “recommendation” from the members of Davao Medical Society for a “lockdown.”

As of November 13, Davao City reported 5,008 cases, comprising 69% of the 7,197 total COVID-19 cases in the region, according to DOH-Davao. Of this figure, 373 cases were recorded in Davao de Oro, 780 in Davao del Norte, 540 in Davao del Sur, 109 in Davao Occidental, and 387 in Davao Oriental.

Davao Region, which is considered as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Mindanao, has 2,185 active, 4,760 recoveries, and 252 deaths, DOH-Davao said.

Of Davao City’s 5,008 cases, 1,678 are classified as active; 3,120 have recovered and 210 have died.

According to the national Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracker as of November 13, Davao City tops the list of areas with “new cases in the last 14 days by date of onset of illness” at 1,196, followed by Quezon City with 872, Cavite with 853, Rizal with 777 and Manila with 741.(Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)