‘One Cebu Island’ policy needed vs. Omicron, says Mayor Cortes

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MANDAUE City Mayor Jonas Cortes wants all local government units (LGUs) in Cebu to come up with a “One Island” policy when it comes to allowing individuals from Alert Level 3 areas to enter Cebu.

Cortes made the statement on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, following the announcement of the differing positions of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama concerning possible travel restrictions to protect Cebu from the entry of the more infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

On Monday, Garcia lifted the ban on the entry of non- Cebuano returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Cebu starting Tuesday, January 4, while on the same day, Rama said he planned to issue an executive order that would implement strict border controls as a way to prevent the new variant from infecting his citizens.

“It’s a good idea, but it will still be useless if all local government units (LGU) in Cebu would implement different protocols. I would rather push for a one-island policy wherein all LGUs must agree and implement the same protocols. Differing policies could be problematic for Mandaue especially that we are considered as a corridor between the Province and Cebu City,” Cortes said in Cebuano.

Cortes added that differing policies between LGUs could also affect their constituents and may cause traffic congestion between borders.

Though he agrees that LGUs should exercise local autonomy, Cortes believes that the national government should interfere on the matter.

In a worst case scenario that the Omicron variant does enter Cebu, Cortes believes that even the barangays will have a hard time in containing its spread.

He believes that coordination between LGUs and national government agencies will be important as they tackle this new threat together.

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