Mayor Sara pushes ‘partial closure’ of Davao Region’s borders to curb COVID-19 spread

Soldiers belonging to Task Force Davao screen passengers at a checkpoint in Lasang, Davao City on 16 March 2020. Davao City has declared that it will not allow the entry of residents from Tagum City and Pantukan into the city and that it will be locking down its borders with the rest of Davao del Norte to prevent the spread of COVID-19. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) – Mayor Sara Duterte has recommended the “partial closure” of the borders of Davao Region as cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country continue to increase.

In her program aired over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday, Duterte revealed that she had raised the suggestion before the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19 (RIATF)-Davao to protect the region’s residents from the virus.

There is a need to limit or control the number of travelers who can enter the region to fight the spread of the virus in the area, she said.

She said the RIATF-Davao was still soliciting comments from the governors of Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental and Davao Oriental. The task force is co-chaired by the Office of the Civil Defense-Davao, headed by Manolito P. Orense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Davao, headed by director Alex C. Roldan, with the local chief executives as members.

“Hopefully, something will come out of it, that we can “semi-close” our region,” she said.

Duterte maintained that the entry to the region must be limited to “essential” travelers, workers and businessmen, while the local government units are dealing with the active cases and managing the transmission of the infections in their communities.

The mayor revealed that she originally thought of implementing the “partial closure” for the city only, but pushing through it might prejudice its neighbors in the region due to the frequent exchanges of people, goods and services in the area.

Davao City is the major economic hub not just of Davao Region but the entire Mindanao.

“We elevated it to the RIATF-11 because it’s more sustainable if done region-wide as against if we only do it here in Davao City… We cannot do it without causing chaos to our neighbors because, as I said, there is frequent exchanges of people and businesses with our neighbors,” she said.

As of April 25, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 57 new cases, bringing the total cases to 23,061, with 867 active, 21,221 recoveries and 973 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 14,369 cases, with 352 active, 13,333 recoveries and 684 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,499 cases, Davao del Norte with 3,983, Davao del Sur with 1,566, Davao Occidental with 226 and Davao Oriental with 1,418.