Regional Updates (03/14/21)

Quezon City reimposes liquor ban, closure of gyms, internet cafes

QUEZON City, the biggest in Metro Manila in terms of land area and population, is reimposing a liquor ban among other restrictions to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases. In a memorandum issued Sunday, Mayor Josefina G. Belmonte ordered limitations on top of the 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew that will be implemented in the entire capital region beginning Monday. “In light of the recent alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, the City hereby issues these Supplemental Guidelines on the implementation of General Community Quarantine. These Supplemental Guidelines shall take effect on Mar. 15, 2021 and shall be effective until Mar. 31, 2021,” the memo reads. Apart from the liquor ban, the mayor directed the temporary closure of gyms, spas and internet cafes, and the adoption of alternative work schemes for offices and other establishments. Ms. Belmonte also reminded all establishments to use the city’s QR code system to ensure proper contact tracing. The city government has also been implementing localized lockdowns in areas where there are significant clusters of cases.  As of Mar. 13, the Department of Health tracker shows Quezon City has the highest number of total and active coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases at 47,767 and 4,554, respectively.

Bohol asserts jumpstarting tourism, economy does not need such events as ‘foam party’

BOHOL Governor Arthur C. Yap ordered a stop to the “Foam Party Fashion Show” scheduled at a resort last Saturday, but the municipal mayor of Panglao issued a special permit allowing the event to push through and personally went to the venue to observe compliance to health protocols. “The Provincial Government of Bohol understands the need to jumpstart the tourism economy, we are your partner on this cause but only in a proper and decent manner; let alone can we tolerate violations of the law and ordinance under any circumstance,” Mr. Yap said in his order dated Mar. 12. He also cited that the venue, Amanzara Resort, does not have accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DoT). Citing a letter from the DoT regional office, he said the resort neither has a pending application for accreditation. Amanzara Resort did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The resort has previously held a foam party where health protocols were shown to have been violated through a video that went viral on social media.

Panglao Mayor Leonila Paredes Montero has defended the resort saying in a statement from the town government that “she supports activities such as these to promote the recovery of the tourism economy.” She added, however, “that lewd shows and any form of indecent exposures have no place in Panglao. That is not the direction of the marketing efforts of tourism of the Local Government Unit of Panglao.” Mr. Yap, in a post late Saturday on his own Facebook page, said, “The (Panglao) Mayor is missing the point. Amanzara does not have a fire clearance, has no business permit, and has no DoT accreditation. Why is she allowing it to operate? Is it not her duty to uphold the law? Her defiance is not in defense of Panglao tourism. She is actually endangering her municipality, the whole Boholano community, and the entire Province of Bohol, by failing to enforce the minimum health standards.” A DoT-accredited resort in Panglao, Casa Teofista, said the provincial and municipal governments “must form a united front in tackling COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) as one cannot function without the other.” It added, that “an establishment must have the necessary documents and enforce COVID-19 protocols.” — MSJ

Palawan plebiscite: Initial results show more ‘no’ votes for division into 3 provinces

PARTIAL and unofficial count of Saturday’s plebiscite in Palawan show more people voted ‘no’ to the law that will divide the province into three. Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena V. Guanzon posted on social media that as of 12:19 p.m. Sunday,  there were 42,312 “yes” votes while those who voted “no” were 84,549. Various local media reports from the different towns also show a trend in favor of the “no” vote. The Palawan Board of Canvassers reconvened 2 p.m. Sunday at the Puerto Princesa Capitol Compound to resume the official count. Comelec earlier said the official result is expected to be announced by Mar. 16. The proposed division, contained in Republic Act No. 11259 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2019, would create the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.

At least two local officials supporting the division have posted statements conceding to defeat. Mayor Maryjean D. Feliciano of Brooke’s Point, which would have become the capital of Palawan del Sur, wrote: “Tinawag pero hindi pinili. Ibinigay subalit tinanggihan. Sa mga nagsulong at bomoto ng NO, congratulations sa inyo sapagkat nakumbinsi nyo ang ating mga kababayan na huwag tanggapin ang pagiging kapitolyo na maglalapit ng serbisyo sa mga tao, magbibigay ng maraming job opportunities at magbubukas ng maraming negosyo (Called but not chosen. Given but turned down. To those who pushed for the NO vote, congratulations to you because you convinced our townmates to reject becoming a capital that would have brought services closer to the people, more job opportunities and more businesses).” Palawan Provincial Board Member Ryan D. Maminta said he gives full “acceptance and respect” to the majority vote as part of a “healthy democracy.” He concluded, “Together,  we shall ceaselessly and tirelessly continue doing our best! Let us serve our communities, our sambayanan, and our nation well!” The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), accredited by Comelec to deploy observers for the plebiscite, said on Saturday evening that there was uneven voter turnout with some areas having less than 50% while others at over 70%. The province, based on Comelec data, has 490,639 registered voters in 23 municipalities. The Palawan plebiscite was the first electoral exercise held in the country with new health protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ms. Guanzon said the plebiscite showed Filipinos “can vote” despite the pandemic. — Gillian M. Cortez