#COVID-19 Regional Updates (06/18/20)

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Manila Bay patrol

MEMBERS of the Philippine Coast Guard’s CCP Complex Station and Auxiliary 101st Squadron have been jointly patrolling the Manila Bay area since the start of lockdown in March, providing security as well as supporting relief operations in the coastal communities.

Central Visayas COVID-19 cases top 5,500; over 4,000 in Cebu City

CORONAVIRUS disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Central Visayas Region has topped 5,500, with about 79% in Cebu City. The Department of Health regional office, in its latest update posted late Wednesday, reported 5,566 confirmed cases as of June 16, of which 3,799 are active cases, 1,637 recoveries, and 130 deaths. Of the total, 4,382 are in Cebu City, which is the only area in the country currently under the strictest lockdown policy. In compliance with the classification imposed by the national government effective June 16–10, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo C. Labella has issued a new executive order outlining the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines. However, Mr. Labella said he has filed an appeal to revert the city back to the less restrictive category. “I have, however, filed an appeal to return the city to general community quarantine based on significant data we have. Pending resolution of that appeal, let us work together to make sure that the ECQ regulations spelled out in my Executive Order are strictly followed,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. The other cases in the region are located in the following: Mandaue City, 449; Lapu-Lapu City, 211; Cebu province, 489; Negros Oriental, 23; Bohol, 12; and none in Siquijor.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday deployed 100 officers to Cebu City to beef up forces for the implementation of health and safety protocols during the ECQ period. PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo T. Eleazar said the contingent consists of 50 cops each from the Western and Eastern Visayas regions. They are assigned at checkpoints and ordered to conduct regular patrols to help ensure that residents follow minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing. “The key to defeating the spread of the virus is cooperation. We need to have a unified front to effectively enforce the quarantine rules,” he said in a statement. — with a report from Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

Eastern Visayas lawmakers call for review of Hatid Probinsya program after spike in COVID-19 cases in region

TWELVE lawmakers from Eastern Visayas called for a review of the government’s Hatid Probinsya program following the recent spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the region. The Hatid Probinsya assists residents in returning to their hometowns after being stranded locally due to the lockdowns. “Official records show that the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases was observed shortly after the national government implemented its Hatid Probinsya program… we firmly believe that it is the duty of government to ensure that these constituents of ours are free from coronavirus infection and other diseases before they are allowed to rejoin their family members,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement on Thursday. They also urged the national government to increase support to the region for containing the virus through funding for medical supplies, local quarantine centers, and contact tracing capability, among others. They said, “We pray that our plan for collective action to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease in Eastern Visayas will come into fruition the soonest time possible,” the House members said. “Time is of the essence. We do not need another epicenter of COVID-19. Not in Eastern Visayas. Not in any part of the country.” The statement was signed by House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez; Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez; Northern Samar Representatives Paul Ruiz Daza and Jose L. Ong, Jr.; Leyte Representatives Vicente S.E. Veloso III, Lucy Torres-Gomez, and Carl Nicolas C. Cari; Western Samar Representatives Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento and Sharee Ann T. Tan; Eastern Samar Rep. Maria Fe R. Abunda; Southern Leyte Rep. Roger G. Mercado, and Biliran Rep. Gerardo J. Espina Jr. — Genshen L. Espedido

Globe adds cell sites in Mindanao

GLOBE TELECOM, Inc. said it continues with its network expansion projects in Mindanao despite the coronavirus crisis, with new cell sites expected to rise soon in the provinces of Davao Oriental, Saranggani, Bukidnon, South Cotabato, and Sulu. “We want to assure our customers that our efforts to give better service and experience are not only concentrated in Luzon or in major commercial centers in big cities,” Joel R. Agustin, Globe senior vice-president for program development-network technical group, said. The expected improvement in connectivity in these areas, Mr. Agustin said, will benefit residents as more Filipinos now work from home and bring more opportunities to small businesses. “In Sulu, for example, better signal means the farmers there can go directly to potential buyers and customers not only in Zamboanga but directly to other places where they can sell their mangosteen, lanzones, marang, durian, vegetables and other harvest goods. This will mean more income for them,” he said. Globe is also studying to carry out more expansion projects in the Visayas and in other parts of Luzon. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Supreme Court junks construction firm’s petition in Makati parking case

THE SUPREME Court dismissed the petition of a construction firm head seeking to stop anti-graft court Sandiganbayan from continuing proceedings on case over the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall parking building. In a nine-page resolution dated February 17 and released June 17, the high court’s second division affirmed Sandiganbayan’s decision to junk the motion of Efren M. Canlas, representative of Hilmarc Construction Corp., to dismiss the case against him and other local government officials, including former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr. The Supreme Court ruled that private individuals may be charged for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if they “act in conspiracy with public officers.” The prayer for a temporary restraining order against Sandiganbayan to hold further proceedings was also denied. The case stems from the contracts awarded to Hilmarc for the P649.3 million Phase IV construction and P141.6 million Phase V construction of the parking building. The company was named lowest bidder in the Bids and Awards Committee resolution and was approved by Mr. Binay despite knowledge of the absence of public bidding. The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting and concurred by Associate Justices Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Andres B. Reyes, Jr., Ramon Paul L. Hernando, and Edgardo L. Delos Santos. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas