THE Regional Inter-Agency Task Force-Central Visayas (RIATF 7) is asking its national counterpart to exempt outbound locally stranded individuals (LSIs) based in Cebu City from the travel ban brought about by strict quarantine measures imposed in the city to stop the spread of Covid-19.
A resolution was passed by the RIATF 7 on Saturday, July 11, 2020 when Cebu City was still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The city is now under modified ECQ from July 16-31, 2020.
However, under the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, public transportation is suspended for areas under ECQ and MECQ.
Except for those working in permitted offices or establishments, the movement of residents is also limited to accessing essential goods and services for areas under ECQ and MECQ.
As for LSIs going to and coming from Cebu City, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año temporarily suspended their movement since June 19 following a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the city.
The suspension has yet to be lifted by Año.
In its resolution, the RIATF 7 sought the permission of the National IATF to allow outbound travel for LSIs in Cebu City provided all Task Force and DILG requirements are complied with prior to their return to their respective places of origin.
The LSIs will also be subjected to local health protocols imposed by the receiving local government units that are consistent with IATF policies.
“The RIATF 7 saw the need to allow outbound LSIs in Cebu City to be exempted from the travel ban as they have been stranded for some time in the city and have therefore run out of resources to support their daily living,” read part of the resolution.
Cebu City had been on ECQ for 95 days as of July 15.
RIATF7-MEID Chair and DILG-7 Director Leocadio Trovela advised LSIs to keep themselves abreast with latest developments on the pending request for exemption.
Meanwhile, despite the slight easing of restrictions in Cebu City, the inter-island travel of passenger vessels is still prohibited.
The clarification was issued by Rey Gealon, spokesperson of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, in a virtual press conference on July 17 amid questions surrounding Labella’s Executive Order 84 declaring the entire Cebu City under MECQ.
Under the order, inter-island travel to and from Cebu City is still prohibited except for authorized government officials and employees, health and emergency workers, law enforcement personnel and force multipliers, trucks and vehicles transporting all types of cargoes, and those authorized by the mayor or his duly authorized representative.
Gealon said the memorandum issued by the DILG banning the travel of LSIs in Cebu City also remains in effect.
Based on the number of applications for travel authority, around 16,000 LSIs are currently stranded in Cebu City.
Newly appointed Deputy Chief Implementer of the IATF Emergency Operations Center in Cebu City, Councilor Joel Garganera said the applications were forwarded to the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
The CCPO is tasked to release the travel authority should the quarantine status of Cebu City be further downgraded.
Garganera said inbound LSIs or the Cebu City residents stranded in other areas will receive free tickets from shipping firms that they could use once they are allowed to return home.
As for outbound LSIs, they may receive up to P5,000 under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program, he said.
Garganera said the LSIs need to secure a certification from the barangay where they are currently staying, a valid identification card, a City Health Department certification, and a travel pass issued by the Philippine National Police and then present these requirements to the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) for assessment.
DSWS head Portia Basmayor said among those to be considered by her office in the release of the AICS are workers with no work, no pay arrangements, stranded students, and people who were supposed to be scheduled for travel.
Basmayor said students, especially those renting in Cebu City, will be prioritized.
Public utility jeepneys are still not allowed to ply routes but the City, in coordination with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, will deploy buses to cater to workers of permitted establishments under the MECQ.
Gealon assured the buses will ply various city streets; however, their routes have yet to be announced. (JJL)