Duterte orders DENR Secretary Cimatu to oversee COVID-19 response in Cebu City

Marje Pelayo   •   June 23, 2020   •   296

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the government’s COVID-19 response in the hard-hit city of Cebu. 

During his recorded public address on Monday evening (June 22), the President noted the conflict among local government officials in the city amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu.

The city reverted to enhanced community quarantine on June 15 while the city of Talisay was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until June 30 due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 infection and a high utilization rate in the city’s critical care capacity. 

Kayong mga taga-Cebu (To the people of Cebu), it’s not that I do not trust your ability but rather I said it’s the penchant to go into a sort of a sisihan (blame-shifting) then nobody would answer for anything,” the President said. 

So mga kaigsuonan nako sa Cebu, both sa mga siyudad og probinsya, akong ipadala si General Cimatu (To my brothers in Cebu, both at the city level and provincial level, I am sending General Cimatu). All he has to do not for permission but just to advise Manila here that these things are being done, these things are not yet done and these things must be done,” he added.

President Duterte asked concerned agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as well as the National Task Force against COVID-19 to extend their assistance to Cimatu in his new role.

Cimatu, for his part, promised to do his best to help solve the problem in Cebu. 

“Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to go to Cebu. I’ll do my best,” he said. 

In the end, President Duterte said the people of Cebu had been “too confident and too complacent” towards the pandemic.

“Iyong mga taga-Cebu, bakit marami (To the Cebuanons,how come you have too many cases)? Because you were too confident and too complacent about it. Parang binalewala ninyo kaya dumating (You took it lightly that’s why),” the President noted. 

Based on the latest report of the DOH, Cebu City has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases among all cities across the country. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Over P500,000 worth of smuggled rice seized in Cebu port

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

More than half a million pesos worth of smuggled rice was intercepted at the Port of Cebu, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Wednesday.

The BOC said the shipment containing 495 bags of Myanmar White Rice was seized on August 10.

“This latest apprehension is the result of the intelligence and investigative work of the Port’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) headed by District Commander SPAS Jerry M. Arizabal,” the bureau said in a statement.

The bags of rice were intercepted after the ESS received information that a shipment that arrived at the Port of Cebu from Kaohsiung, Taiwan on July 23 was loaded with imported rice.

The bureau’s investigation showed that the inward foreign manifest declared the shipment to contain personal effects. It was consigned to a certain Theresa Lawas of Barangay Pansoy, Municipality of Sogod, Cebu.

However, verification with Barangay Pansoy revealed that it had no resident named Theresa Lawas.

With this information, Acting District Collector Atty. Charlito Martin Mendoza issued a Pre-Lodgement Control Order against the shipment on 29 July 2020.

“A 100% physical examination was subsequently conducted by Customs Examiner Odilon Bustamante in the presence of representatives from the ESS, X-ray Inspection Project (XIP), Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI)-Cebu Chapter,” the BOC said.

The physical examination yielded 495 bags of Myanmar White Rice, and no personal effects as stated in the manifest, it added.

The bags of rice were also not covered by any Sanitary and Phytosanitary Clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry.

Consequently, a Warrant of Seizure and Detention against the shipment for violation of Section 1113(f) and (l) par. 5of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

The BOC reminded importers to properly declare their goods, and identify themselves in shipping documents. It also called on the public to report to the Bureau any information about illegal shipments that are attempted to be brought into the country.

Climate emergency remains as urgent as ever amid COVID-19 pandemic—Cimatu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 23, 2020

Climate change still remains as urgent as ever amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“It is like the COVID-19 emergency, just in slow motion and much graver,” Cimatu said on Wednesday (July 22).

The DENR also said climate change have a multiplier effect which would lead to other problems, from ecosystem stability to food production and human conflict.

“Deforestation disrupts weather patterns and the water cycle, contributes to climate change, and destroys the habitats of important species. Chemicals and waste are polluting the air, soil and water, killing millions each year,” the department said in a statement.

Cimatu said major environmental protection programs like solid waste management, reforestation and biodiversity conservation, must be consistent with the overall response to COVID-19, future pandemics and climate crisis.

“The government—through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR—will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce long-term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” he said.

Cebu City shifts to modified ECQ; Metro Manila remains under GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Cebu City eases to modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ starting Thursday (July 16) while the entire Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

This was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday night (July 15) after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Cebu City was placed under the strictest quarantine restrictions following the spike in cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the area. 

The Task Force in June focused its response on Cebu City after COVID-19 situations worsened partly due to conflicts among local government officials prompting the President to send Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to handle the problems and enforce strict measures in the area.

Under MECQ, essential workers and authorized persons outside of residence are allowed to go out.

Selected industries will also be allowed to operate under 50% operational capacity. 

Public transport will also be allowed on a limited basis only for essential goods and services.

Meanwhile, the general community quarantine (GCQ) over Metro Manila will be extended until July 31 as approved by President Duterte despite previously considering recommendations from experts of the University of the Philippines to revert the capital to MECQ to further contain the outbreak.

Experts forecast that the virus infection might surge to 80,000 by the end of the month, thus the national government is warning all Metro Manila residents to follow health protocols and practice health precautions, otherwise it will be compelled to impose again the strictest quarantine measures. 

“Pumayag po ang ating Presidente na huwag munang ibalik ang Metro Manila sa MECQ sa susunod na dalawang linggo (The President agreed not to revert Metro Manila to MECQ in the next two weeks),” Roque said. 

“Pero malinaw po sa diskusyon, kapag hindi pa rin po napabagal ang COVID sa Metro Manila, posibleng pong bumalik sa MECQ pagkatapos po nitong dalawang linggo, (But it was clear in the discussion that if COVID cases in Metro Manila do not subside, there is a possibility of reverting to MECQ after two weeks),” he added. 

To further control the problem, Roque said the Metro Manila mayors vowed to intensify their respective localized lockdowns as well as testing, tracing and treatment in addition to the strict implementation of the GCQ. 

Aside from Metro Manila, other areas placed under GCQ starting July 16 are: Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Basilan, and Talisay, Minglanilla, and Concepcion in Cebu Province.

Meanwhile, the following areas will be under MGCQ (medium-risk) starting July 16:

  • CAR- Benguet, Baguio City
  • Region 1 – Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union, Dagupan City
  • Region 2 – Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya
  • Region 3 – Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City
  • Region 4A – Batangas, Quezon, Lucena City
  • Region 4B – Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa City
  • Region 5 – Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Naga City
  • Region 6 – Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, Bacolod City
  • Region 7 – Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu Province
  • Region 8 – Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Tacloban City
  • Region 9 – Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga Del Norte
  • Region 10 – Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao Del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City
  • Region 11 – Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao De Oro, Davao City
  • Region 12 – Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, General Santos City
  • Region 13 – Agusan Del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur
  • BARMM – Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao

The rest of the country is placed under a category called low-risk MGCQ. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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