Gov. MMM reacts to clamor for lockdown

* Inclined but it has legalities to consider

LAOAG CITY, July 31 (PIA) –Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc has reacted to a public clamor for a lockdown in Ilocos Norte due to a sudden spike of local COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases in this northern province.

In his online official message, Manotoc said he is inclined to put the province under lockdown but there are legalities that need to be considered when local government units want to impose lockdown in their areas.

He cited Executive Order No. 112 of President Duterte dated April 30, 2020, which says “No LGU shall declare its own community quarantine, regardless of nomenclature, without observing the foregoing procedure.”

All decisions to impose, lift, extend a community quarantine in the provinces shall rest with the regional counterpart body of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Further, the omnibus guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine released by IATF provide that movement of all types of cargoes shall be unhampered. This also includes the movement of authorized persons such as frontline services personnel, persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, and those traveling abroad.

Although the province will not be put on lockdown, the provincial governor said they have requested IATF to stop sending Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) from Laoag and Pagudpud as they manage current cases of COVID-19.

“We will request IATF to temporarily stop sending all ROFs and LSIs to Ilocos Norte,” Manotoc said.

It was learned that the governor had requested the Office of the President not to send home to Ilocos Norte any residents now in Metro Manila without a negative PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test under the Hatid Tulong program.

The governor’s Executive Order 85-20 issued last July 20 says that a negative PCR test of a person must be presented when entering the two control borders of the province.

“All returning residents must now coordinate their arrival beforehand with their respective barangay captains and mayors. Meanwhile, all APOR and cargo must show proof of work in the province which is to be validated by their point person or recipient in Ilocos Norte,” Manotoc added.

Those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 carrier are urged to quarantine and limit their exposure to others. This includes those who work at a medical or quarantine facility, who are waiting for their test result, and who have returned from outside the province.

On July 30, the province registered eight new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 17. So far, the overall number of COVID-19 cases in Ilocos Norte is 23 as of this writing.

Because of this, Manotoc had discouraged people’s gathering and urged the further strengthening of health measures like wearing face masks and observe social distancing of one meter or 3 feet.

“We also want to assure you that our COVID-19 protocols are in place and we must not become overly worried. We have faith in our neighbors and the strength of our communities. May we all continue to do the right thing for one another,” the governor stressed. (Ma. Joreina Therese A. Blanco/PIA ILOCOS NORTE)