Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu made the recommendation as he expressed alarm over the sharp rise in the number of fatalities from about six to 13 on Monday. He said the cases were mostly in the densely populated barangays in Cebu City.
Senate PRIB/Cesar Tomambo
Cimatu wants Cebu City to remain under ECQ
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Cebu City should remain under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases – including deaths – have risen sharply in the city, according to the official sent there by President Duterte to oversee the government’s response to the health crisis.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu made the recommendation as he expressed alarm over the sharp rise in the number of fatalities from about six to 13 on Monday. He said the cases were mostly in the densely populated barangays in Cebu City.

As this developed, the Department of Health (DOH) clarified that the redeployment of some Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) to Cebu City would be on a voluntary basis.

The DOH’s announcement came after a group of physicians denounced what it called an “exploitative order” to reassign the doctors.

“So right now, we will continue the ECQ because to them, this is just a start. Because they did not impose any strict rules when the first ECQ was imposed. Now, we have deployed additional forces, additional police, so we now already have some sense of compliance,” he said.

“We have to maintain the quarantine level here (Cebu City). That’s my recommendation because we need to stop the bleeding,” Cimatu told ANC in an interview.

Most of the cases in Cebu City, Cimatu said, originated from 12 barangays, which he did not identify.

“So, there is an upward trend in the number of deaths and the number of cases – 1,500 cases already for the city of Cebu alone, compared to our highest there in NCR, which is almost double,” Cimatu said.

“So we need to contain this disease before we relax the ECQ,” he said. He said if it’s already possible to ease the quarantine, there should be lockdown in the 12 most affected barangays.

Cebu City is the only Philippine city under ECQ. Neighboring Talisay City is under modified ECQ.

Under ECQ, mass transport, non-essential work and mass gatherings are prohibited.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said an earlier plan to redeploy some doctors to the barrios was meant to help Cebu City in its battle with COVID-19.

“The move of DOH to deploy DTTB (is) because we are trying to exhaust our resources … Many issues came out. When we had our meeting, it was decided to make it voluntary for now,” she said at a press briefing.

“We had a talk with the doctors and many of them refused. It is quite disheartening because we are now in public health emergency and I hope the commitment of our government workers are there,” she added

On Monday, the DTTB Batches 36 and 37 raised opposition to the reassignment of doctors currently in Western Visayas and Central Visayas to Cebu City.

The doctors claimed the “abrupt exploitative order”of the DOH to put them in private hospitals in Cebu City is simply unacceptable.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also questioned the DOH’s earlier announcement to redeploy DTTB doctors.

Vergeire said the DTTB doctors would be assigned to government hospitals and possibly private hospitals.

She assured them they would not be assigned in specialized units like operating rooms.

“We are still finalizing the units where they will be assigned to. But of course, we won’t assign them to do the operations... Possibly in the triage areas, in the outpatient department,” she added.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggested yesterday that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) include a Cebuano in its group in Cebu City to speed up the implementation of lockdown protocols in the province.

“I have to be very blunt about it, we Cebuanos are like that, if the one sent there to issue orders is from Manila, eyebrows would be raised. But if the person is from there (Cebu), they will accept whatever policies that should be implemented there. That is only my opinion,” Sotto told reporters via videoconference.

Sotto’s father hails from Cebu.

He said Cimatu should be accompanied by somebody from Cebu as a “counterpart” from the province. He suggested former councilor Erik Espina, who is also a general in the Army reserve force.

He said that while most Cebuanos follow health protocols, there are a “few thousands who are stubborn, they’re the ones causing problems.” Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte-Felipe, and Rhodina Villanueva

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