Business leaders in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental opposed the call to declare another enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in this city, following the spike in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases here in the past days.
“The business sector is advising against a return to ECQ. The people of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental are already experiencing the negative impact of the economic downturn due to the quarantine measures imposed earlier and another lockdown may lead to more businesses closing, increased joblessness, more people falling deeper into poverty, and may have knock-on effects on peace and order,” they said in a position paper titled “Keep the Balance” released on Wednesday afternoon.
A copy of the document was also posted on the Facebook page of Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chair of the city’s inter-agency task force against Covid-19.
The position paper was signed by Edgar Sy, president of Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; William Ong, president of Northern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Alfonso Cu, president of Southern Negros Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Henry Uy, president of Negros Occidental Filipino-Chinese Amity Club Inc.; and Roberto Montelibano, president of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
They aired their stand after Dr. Ma. Ivy Malata, president of Canlaon Medical Society; and Dr. Robert Puerta, president of Negros Occidental Medical Society, sent a letter to Mayor Evelio Leonardia, expressing their alarm on the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental due to local transmissions.
The two groups of medical doctors recommended that Bacolod be placed under ECQ for at least two weeks again to limit the movement of people as a means to contain the virus and prevent its spread to a level of high community transmission, which would be, according to them, more difficult to handle.
However, the business leaders said although quarantine measures are necessary to stop Covid-19 transmission in its tracks, the specific measures to be taken should consider the balance between slowing down the rate of infections and its impact on the economy.
“The business sector calls on the full cooperation of the people of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental in implementing stricter enforcement of health protocols and aggressive tracking and improvement of monitoring system, and declaring of localized lockdowns in areas where community transmission is monitored,” they added.
They also suggested more measures to help curb the Covid-19 transmission without resorting to ECQ.
These include strictly enforcing discipline and imposing penalties through an increase in police visibility in high traffic areas to strictly enforce the minimum health standards, including physical distancing, wearing of masks and compliance of the vulnerable population.
Empower barangay tanods and hold barangay officials accountable for strict compliance in their villages, sitios and puroks with constant monitoring and imposition of strict disciplinary measures, the business leaders said.
They added that the city government should impose an earlier curfew and declare liquor ban to limit movement and prevent unnecessary gatherings.
“While quarantine measures are necessary to save lives, it is also necessary to reduce the possibility of more lasting damage to the economy. Our local economy might not survive another lockdown and vulnerable people, families and communities can fall deeper into poverty,” the business leaders added.
During the ECQ in Bacolod from March 30 to May 15, operations of business establishments, except those providing essential services such as supermarkets and drug stores stopped while public utility vehicles were also prohibited. (PNA)