The travel of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from Metro Manila back to their homes in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as well as in Iloilo City has been suspended for 14 days effective Saturday.
The moratorium, which will run until Aug. 21, is stated in Memorandum Circular No. 3, series of 2020 dated August 7, and issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chair of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19.
A copy of the one-page directive was provided by the Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Management Program Division and the Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental to reporters here on Sunday afternoon.
“Hereby approved is the temporary suspension of repatriation of LSIs and ROFs to the Province of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City and Iloilo City for a period of 14 days starting August 8,” Lorenzana said in the circular.
He noted that the request for a moratorium was stated in Resolution 28 dated August 7 of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) and Regional Task Force (RTF) on Covid-19 of Western Visayas.
Last week, Mayor Evelio Leonardia here appealed for a two-week moratorium on the acceptance of LSIs and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), which was subsequently endorsed by the Regional Task Force Covid-19 to the NTF Against Covid-19 on Friday.
“It will be a reprieve for our health workers and other front-liners after working non-stop for months. If we also lengthen our curfew hours and strictly impose our health protocols, we will have a better chance in slowing down the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19),” Leonardia said in a statement.
The moratorium was proposed after a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the local government units (LGUs), following the arrival of returning residents and also due to the limited resources and capacity of LGUs to quarantine them.
Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the city’s Quarantine Centers Action Team, also warned of the health dangers to the general community if there will be an overflow of arriving OFWs beyond what local hotels are willing to accommodate for quarantine purposes.
Leonardia also separately appealed for a moratorium to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in his Aug. 3 letter addressed to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
On Aug. 5, the mayor also wrote to Office of Civil Defense-6 Regional Director Jose Roberto Nuñez, chair of RTF Western Visayas, requesting the RIATF’s intercession on the city’s request for a moratorium. (PNA)