Panglao preparing for diving fiesta in May as travel bubble opened to mainland Bohol

PANGLAO is gearing up for its 2nd Panglao International Dive Fiesta on May 4-9, with health protocols and other procedures being firmed up to ensure the safety of participants, other guests, and the island’s residents. Mayor Leonila P. Montero, who presides over the inter-agency task force (IATF) on coronavirus, said one of the adjustments being undertaken is the transfer of the handling of arriving guests to the Municipal Tourism Office from the Public Employment Office. Meanwhile, tourists in Panglao are now allowed to go out of the island bubble to mainland Bohol subject to guidelines issued by Governor Arthur C. Yap. Under Executive order No. 7, Panglao guests can go to mainland sites “after yielding a negative RT-PCR test result five days upon arrival in Panglao.” Salive RT-PCR test and rapid antigen test are accepted for long-staying tourists. Guests are also required to coordinate with the Panglao municipal government to ensure that inter-island movements are properly recorded. All those going to Bohol, including Panglao, must pre-register through

The neighboring province of Cebu also announced last week that it is reopening to tourists “from anywhere in the country.” The province was among the first in the country to allow tourism activities to resume for residents. “So it could be to go visit some relatives here, for business, or more importantly, for tourism,” Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia said during a meeting with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) task force on Feb. 11. The provincial government said visitors staying solely in resorts and hotels will only need to show their pre-booked reservations while those going to tourism sites will have to pre-register through Cebu province’s guidelines do not cover the independent cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue. — MSJ 

Davao City universities tapped as vaccination venues

PRIVATE and state-owned universities in Davao City are opening their campuses as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination sites in addition to designated public elementary schools, according to City Health Officer Ashley G. Lopez. During the simulation exercise held Friday, Mr. Lopez said among those that have signed up as venues include the University of Mindanao, Ateneo de Davao University, and the University of the Southeastern Philippines. He added that discussions are ongoing with the University of Immaculate Concepcion. The city government is targeting to have at least one vaccination site in each of the 11 administrative districts. Mr. Lopez also said the simulation held at Mabini Elementary School, which included a going through the inoculation process, went well. “In terms of the flow, it was smooth because they have a good set up from the gym for the orientation and screening, then registration, counseling to vaccination process,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English. The exercise included the transport of COVID-19 vaccines that require up to -80 celsius temperature from the Southern Philippines Medical Center and the Los Amigos Molecular Laboratory. Meanwhile, former city health officer Joy J. Villafuerte, who was recently designated to lead the vaccination program, said there is a need to strengthen the information campaign on the importance of getting vaccinated. “The vaccine is already coming. We set up facilities. The city has put a lot of programs. We need to push it more to ensure that more people will get vaccinated and we do not waste our efforts,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English. The local government is targeting to innoculate around 1.2 million individuals out of the over 1.6 million population. — Maya M. Padillo

Bill filed to strengthen Laguna Lake agency

A senator filed a bill to strengthen the powers of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for the rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay. Senator Richard J. Gordon filed Senate Bill No. 2047, which will repeal Republic Act No. 4850 or the Laguna Lake Development Authority Act of 1966. Mr. Gordon said under the existing law, the authority exercises policy and planning, regulatory and development functions but does not have control over all projects affecting the Laguna de Bay area. There are also overlapping and conflicting mandates and programs of several agencies and local governments. Among the current problems faced by the LLDA involve solid waste management, sanitation, congestion of shore lands, and decline in water quality, among others. “This bill seeks to expedite the restoration and rehabilitation of Laguna Lake and improve its water quality so it can be used as a major domestic water source for Metro Manila and nearby provinces,” Mr. Gordon said in the explanatory note. “The proposed measure also aims to strengthen the policy-making and regulatory powers of the LLDA, in order that it can realize the vision of a self-sufficient and highly dynamic integrated water management authority, with competent and professional personnel who take the lead towards the sustainable development of the Laguna de Bay,” he added. The Laguna Lake area covers the provinces of Laguna and Rizal, cities of Pasay, Caloocan, Quezon, Makati, Manila, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Tagaytay, Tanauan, Taguig and Lipa, as well as some towns in Cavite, Quezon, Batangas, and the town of Pateros. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas