RIATF backs Bacolod appeal against MECQ; other Region 6 LGUs air opposition, too

A joint resolution recommending that Bacolod City and other local government units in Western Visayas be allowed to retain their current quarantine status until the end of July instead of being elevated to stricter classifications was sent to the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) Wednesday, July 14.

The Western Visayas Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF 6) and the Regional Task Force (RTF) Against COVID-19 held an emergency meeting with local chief executives of the provinces and highly urbanized cities where the resolution recommending a status quo was approved.

The resolution was sent to Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing who sits as head of the screening committee of the NIATF.

Under the initial NIATF classification, only Guimaras and Negros Occidental will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) while the city and province of Iloilo will be placed on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the rest of the provinces and Bacolod City will be under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from July 16 to 31.

Except for Guimaras and Negros Occidental, the rest of the WV provinces and the two highly urbanized cities are opposing their new classifications, Bacolod City Administrator Em Ang said.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, NIATF chairman, requested that they reconsider escalating Bacolod’s risk classification to MECQ and instead allow it to retain its GCQ status until July 31.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is, first and foremost, a health crisis. However, it has rapidly become an economic one, too,” Leonardia said.

He said many Bacolodnons have already lost their jobs and businesses because of the prolonged community quarantine.

“We cannot afford to add more restrictions that can result to dire consequences in our economy and cause more hardships to already suffering families,” he said.

Leonardia said during the last two weeks there has been a significant decrease of COVID-19 cases in Bacolod City ,with the Average Daily Attack Rate at 10.18 percent, down from 17.49 percent.

The numbers alone should be reasonable to allow Bacolod City to remain under GCQ, he said.

The data presented at the emergency meeting showed that the COVID-19 cases in the region are going down, except for Iloilo City that only had a slight drop, Ang, who is the executive director of the Bacolod Emergency Operations Center, said.

In Bacolod City COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks have gone down 42 percent, she said.

Bacolod’s COVID-19 attack rate has also dropped and the utilization rate of health care facilities is at 51 percent compared to 98 percent four weeks ago, Ang said.

“We are wondering why now that our cases have dropped our risk classification has been elevated,” Ang said.

The NIATF was set to meet Wednesday night to deliberate on the appeals and announce the final quarantine classifications on Thursday, June 15, she said.*

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