By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Saturday is open to let the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) take over the direction of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
The ECQ in the city was implemented through Executive Order (EO) No. 055-2020 issued on March 19, 2020 as part of the city’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
It took effect on March 20 and was originally set to expire on April 14, 2020.
The mayor extended the ECQ to April 30 through EO No. 061-2020 issued on April 8.
On April 24, the IATF-EID classified Iloilo, including Iloilo City, as a high-risk area for COVID-19 due to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The task force then recommended the extension of the ECQ to May 15.
Prior to this, the mayor had already announced that the city was developing an exit plan upon the lifting of the ECQ.
On the same day, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año told the media that local government units (LGU) are barred from implementing the ECQ.
Año said they should seek approval from the IATF-EID before issuing any orders related to the ECQ in their jurisdictions.
In a radio interview on Saturday, April 25, Treñas said that he welcomes the DILG Secretary’s pronouncement.
He added that he has spoken to IATF-EID spokesperson Harry Roque, saying the extension is still not set in stone.
“It’s better if the IATF will be the one to place us (under ECQ), it’s part of their decision, and we will follow what they wish to do. I have talked to Secretary Roque and he says it will still be checked. But I am leaving this to the IATF because they will decide what is best for the city. Whatever it is, we’re planning whichever way they want, we are prepared,” he said.
Treñas said that despite the pending extension, he will continue drafting plans for the city to transition out of the ECQ.
“We will continue to plan because whatever happens, COVID-19 will not run away from us any time soon. Whether we exit from the ECQ on April 30, or we exit on May 15, it’s still the same because we’re the ones keeping the city alive,” he said.
Treñas also confirmed that relief operations for the city’s residents will continue after the lifting of the ECQ.
He said that he will consult with Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon and the Iloilo City Council to make sure that these operations continue.
“We will be talking together with the Vice Mayor and the Councilors so we can come up with a firm enough plan,” he said.
He also announced that the SM Group will donate equipment for hospitals in the city to support its fight against COVID-19.
“There are equipment arriving donated by SM for our hospitals. It will arrive on Monday. SM will also donate PCR test kits which will be given to our hospitals,” he said.
He said that the city continues to prepare isolation and quarantine centers for residents and patients who are at risk.
“As regards to the quarantine, we are preparing isolation, quarantine centers. Those who needed to be brought to the hospitals, we will do our best to bring them to the hospitals,” he said.
He also encouraged Ilonggos who are stranded in other parts of the country to contact the Office of Civil Defense.
“I think they should coordinate through the OCD. We also have people stranded at Ong Bun Pension who are from different places, we have asked them to coordinate with the OCD,” he said.