Central Visayas police cancel all Cebu City quarantine passes

The Central Visayas police canceled the validity of all quarantine passes in Cebu City effective 10 pm on Tuesday, June 23.

Central Luzon police chief Brigadier General Albert Ferro confirmed this in a text message to Rappler past 9 pm on Tuesday.

According to PRO-7 memorandum, the Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the police to cancel the validity of the passes.

This came a week after the national task force on the pandemic response placed Cebu City on lockdown again after the city doubled its coronavirus infections for a period of 6.5 days while it was on the less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) in the beginning of June.

Under Año's directive, only exempted frontliners and essential workers would be allowed on the streets. Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella later clarified this, saying that authorized people can still leave their homes for essential tasks, as well as those exempted from restrictions on movement of people.

Ferro told reporters in a Tuesday night teleconference that the Labella had yielded to the DILG order.

"He's acceding to the cancellation of the 250,000 quarantine passes issued by the city hall," Ferro said. "What I understand is there will be an evaluation of reissuance of one [pass] for family. We have to abide by the ECQ guidelines." 

Ferro also clarified that those exempted would still be allowed out, but the city government and the DILG would have to come up with a new scheme so that fewer people would be out at the same time.

They would look into possibly enforcing the coding system per day, or time of day, to allow residents per barangay to go out and buy necessities. 

After the announcement was made, Labella addressed the public through a recorded message posted after midnight.

"Be assured that authorized persons outside residents and other exempted individuals will still be allowed to go out. The city government will still continue to help the barangays. We are continuously coordinating with them, please support your local officials," he said.

Labella said guidelines for the issuance of new ECQ passes would be released later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu arrived in Cebu City for meetings. The night before, President Rodrigo Duterte put him in charge of the local government's COVID-19 response.

Cimaty said during an earlier press conference that he would visit the barangays most affected by COVID-19 before coming up with a new or tweaked strategies to contain the virus in Cebu City – the area with the highest number of infections in the country.

On Tuesday, Cebu City reported 30 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 4,479 cases. 

At least 31 new recoveries were reported, with 7 new deaths. The total death toll in the city is now at 89.

Nationwide, there was an increase of 1,150 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 31,825.

Experts estimated that nationwide coronavirus infections could hit 40,000 by the end of June if the government is unable to slow down or contain the contagion. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.

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