Espinoza: An explainer needed

Elias L. Espinoza

CONFLICT? On Monday at about 5 p.m., on my way home from the office, the tail-end of the motor vehicles going to the direction of Talamban were at the area of a university in Kasambagan. I thought there was a police checkpoint farther ahead. I was wrong. It turned out that plenty motor vehicles were on the road, the first day of the general community quarantine (GCQ) in the city.

More motor vehicles are now on the road as business owners, employees, and workers are back to work in offices and establishments allowed to reopen under GCQ. Many workers were stranded because the public transport was not enough. Some have to walk to their work places.

That one might be infected with Covid-19 even if everyone complies and observed with the health protocols issued by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) is still a huge concern for everyone especially when people start to congregate.

I suppose, it is for this concern that Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) 17-D, carried by CDN Digital, that restricts travel to and from the towns and component cities of the Province and Cebu City when Cebu City and the province are already under GCQ on June 1. EO 17-D will take effect today. Exempted under this EO 17-D are the health and emergency frontline personnel.

The requirements for those who would travel from the town or city to Cebu City and vice-versa is quite easy, which in a way discourages people from traveling. Sections 8.9 and 8.10 of EO 17-D require persons who want to travel to Cebu City from their town or city to secure a travel authority from their mayor and those from Cebu City who want to travel to the towns or component cities are mandated to get a pass from Capitol.

The governor exercises the authority to issue EOs under the Local Government Code, or RA 7160, particularly Section 465, paragraph (b), sub-paragraphs (1) and (vii) in relation to this pandemic. After EO 17-D was posted on FB, several comments and questions popped up. Experience tells us that it's not a walk in the park to get a travel pass, which is only good for one day.

I truly believe that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) should come up with an "explainer" to prevent confusion. To recall, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año on May 28, 2020 said that passes are not anymore needed in GCQ areas. He was interviewed by CCN after IATF-EID issued Resolution 40 that downgraded some provinces, including Cebu, towns and cities to GCQ.

"Hindi na kailangan ng quarantine pass sa (in) general community quarantine, hindi na siya absolute," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told CNN Philippines' The Source. "Kasi ang ating GCQ, nakita natin hindi na siya ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) or total lockdown. Ang GCQ, ang tinitingnan na lang natin dito... meron pa rin tayong tinatawag na mga minimum health standards." (CNN news story)

It's the noble intention of the untiring and sometimes feisty Governor Garcia in issuing the EO 17-D to protect her constituents. Perhaps, she did this in preparation for the acceleration of the Province to a modified GCQ on June 12 that coincides with celebration of Independence Day.

But there is a need for a clarification from the DILG or the IATF to avoid confusion and misunderstanding between the police manning the checkpoints and those who travel from GCQ area to another GCQ area on which order to follow. A travel pass is akin to quarantine pass because one can't move out without it.