Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas ordered Monday, August 10, the reopening of all provincial roads leading to Lipa City, overriding an executive order by mayor Eric Africa to put up barricades ringing the city.
In his letter to Africa, the governor said national task force on COVID-19 only recommended the setting up of check points for areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Africa’s Executive Order No. 70 Series of 2020 placed the entire Lipa City on lockdown starting 12:01 am of August 1 until August 15 due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. This imposition was stricter than the prescribed GCQ protocols.
As of August 11, there were 202 confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections in Lipa City, including 90 recoveries.
“Based on our study and evaluation of national issuances, the lockdown mandated by the National Task Force refers to closure of roads by placing checkpoints in entry points in accordance to the issued guidelines and not the total closure of roads through barricades. In relation to this, all provincial roads leading to Lipa shall not be closed with barricades. Instead, checkpoints will be placed in these entry points in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police,” Mandanas said in a letter dated August 10.
Africa posted on his official Facebook account: “Na-deny na po ang ating request na magkaroon tayo ng lockdown…. Napakahirap po ng sitwasyon ng Lipa, tayo po ay nasa sentro ng lalawigan ng Batangas at napakaraming entry points papasok at palabas ng ating bayan. Kaya nga po ako napilitan na magsara ng kalsada para ma-control po natin ang movement ng tao. Pero ngayon tatanggalin na po natin ang mga road closures in compliance sa directive ng IATF.”
(Our request for a lockdown in our city has been denied. Lipa City is in a tough situation. We are in the center of Batangas province and there are many entry and exit points here. That was the reason we closed all roads. We wanted to control the movement of people. But we will not lift all road closures in compliance with the IATF directive.)
He said there were a total of 18 roads with entry and exit points to Lipa City and the local police do not have enough personnel to establish checkpoints on all.
“Ang akin nalang po hinihiling na sa pagtanggal ng road barriers ay tayo po ay susunod sa lahat ng mga panukala at patakaran ng lungsod ng Lipa. Lahat po ng bahay ay dapat naka set up na pwedeng gawing temporary isolation facility. Kung kayo po at may symptoms ng COVID, kayo po ay mag-isolate na muna sa inyong bahay,” he added.
(My only request, now that the road barriers have been removed, is for everybody to follow the rules and regulations imposed by Lipa City. All homes should prepare to set up a temporary isolation facility. If you have the symptoms of COVID, isolate yourself in your homes.)
Since March, the city of Lipa has conducted over 10,000 swab and rapid tests among its residents. Africa said they would continue to provide free rapid testing for Lipa residents working outside the city. – Rappler.com