Ban on return of stranded residents enforced in more areas

A HALT on the return of stranded residents to their hometowns has been enforced in more areas in the Visayas and Mindanao to manage the increasing number of coronavirus patients in localities with limited facilities. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said on Monday that the national task force handling the outbreak response on Monday approved the suspension of returning locally stranded individuals to the following areas: the entire Cebu island, which covers Cebu City and Cebu province, cities in Mactan island, and the entire regions of Western Visayas and Caraga. A suspension is already in place until July 8 in the Eastern Visayas. Cebu City currently has the highest number of cases among major urban areas and has been placed under a strict lockdown. Meanwhile, representatives of the private sector-led Project ARK will be meeting with Cebu business groups this week for the conduct of mass testing. “Tomorrow we’re going to meet with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce,” Project ARK Medical Team Leader Minguita Padilla said in a briefing. Ms. Padilla also said more companies have joined the project, with 427 firms now part of the initiative to roll out rapid mass testing nationwide. — Gillian M. Cortez

Lawmaker calls for immediate repair of damaged irrigation systems in Central Luzon

A LAWMAKER on Monday called on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to immediately address the damaged irrigation systems in Central Luzon, one of the main rice-producing regions in the country. Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Joseph T. Cabatbat said irrigation infrastructure problems such as the damaged rubber gates in Bustos Dam in Bulacan and cracks measuring up to 500 meters on the walls of Superdivision Canal in Nueva Ecija are affecting farm production. Mr. Cabatbat noted that the rainy season has started but water supply in farms remains a problem. “The entire region of Central Luzon is having water supply issues and for sure, rice planting in the ‘rice granary’ of the country is affected by the irrigation problems,” he said. “During this time of crisis and pandemic, boosting local food production should be the first step to keep our countrymen from going hungry,” he added. In a June 18 statement, NIA said a coffer dam will be constructed as a temporary replacement for the damaged rubber gate in Bustos Dam, without cost to the agency. The temporary rubber gate repairs are expected to be completed by July 15. The rubber bladder replacement is under a 20-year warranty period from 2017 to 2037, and will be serviced by a consortium of ITP Construction, Inc. and Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau Co., Ltd. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave