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One week of ECQ in Cebu City: The reality

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Reporter/CDN Digital | April 04,2020 - 07:41 PM
This is what the once busy area of downtown Cebu City -- the corner of Gorordo Avenue and Escario Street -- a week after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been implemented. |Alven Marie A. Timtim

This is what the once busy area of downtown Cebu City — the corner of Gorordo Avenue and Escario Street — a week after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been implemented. |Alven Marie A. Timtim

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City has been under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for a week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The bustling center of commerce of Central Visayas grew silent for seven days after people were forced to stay home and limit their movement. 

“The best way to fight COVID-19 is to stay at home,” said City Health Officer Daisy Villa. 

Read more: BREAKING: Cebu City closes its borders

Borders were closed around the 14 exits of the city, but exemptions were made for frontliners, government employees, media, employees of exempted establishments like groceries, and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Read more: IN PHOTOS: Cebu closes its borders

Mayor Edgardo Labella imposed an ECQ pass system to ensure that only one per household should go out to buy their needs.

ECQ pass or quarantine pass

An example of a green quarantine pass for barangays. | Photo Courtesy of Cebu City PIO

Read more: A Cebu City resident’s guide to getting a green quarantine pass

The distribution of the ECQ passes became controversial as the city only printed 250,000 passes for the barangays to share. 

Read more: Barangays decry lack of ECQ passes

Barangays reported deficits of 3,000 passes for smaller barangays and up to 11,000 passes for larger barangays. 

Labella then ordered the printing of more ECQ passes and allowed the barangays to issue their own if necessary, but these barangay passes could only be used in their jurisdiction.

Read more: More ECQ passes to come—Labella

For a resident in Barangay Buhisan who lives in a compound with six other households, the lack of passes have become difficult. 

The 27-year-old father said they were only given 1 pass for the entire compound and these have caused tensions between the families over the use of the pass. 

“Di man sad gud mangutana kinsay hatagan sa pass. Kato pa gyod ila gihatagan, mao pa gyod dalo kaayo. (The barangay did not ask who should hold the pass, the one who was given is not inclined to share),” said the father. 

Still, the city government encourages everyone to stay at home and avoid going out as much as they can. 

Read more: P1M to P3M COVID-19 aid for Cebu City barangays

The city has already distributed the financial assistance of up to P3 million to the barangays for the food of their residents. 

Bigger barangays like Guadalupe and Talamban each got P3 million while smaller barangays like Lusaran got P1 million. 

Rice subsidy for inderprivilege residents in Cebu City are awaiting delivery to the respective barangay as the city is placed on ECQ or enhanced community quarantine. | Photo Courtesy of Cebu City PIO

Rice subsidy for inderprivilege residents in Cebu City are awaiting delivery to the respective barangay as the city is placed on ECQ or enhanced community quarantine. | Photo Courtesy of Cebu City PIO

Read more: 100K sacks of rice now being delivered to Cebu City barangays

Aside from the financial assistance, the city is also giving out 100,000 sacks of rice to be distributed to the “poorest of the poor” especially those with no work no pay. 

For Niel Delapena, a cook from Barangay Mabolo, the ECQ has become a matter of survival. 

He only has P220 in his savings and the enhanced community quarantine is expected to last until April 28, 2020. 

Because he is not a voter of Barangay Mabolo, he was not listed among the immediate beneficieries of the food packs distributed by the barangays. 

“Giingnan mi nga kung dili botante, di mi malista (We were told that if we were not voters, we will not be listed),” said Delapena. 

Delapena referred to the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office (MILO), who initially went to their house to list their names. 

Later, the workers of Barangay Mabolo already included them on the list and on Friday, April 3, 2020, they received a package from the barangay. 

“Wala mi kahibawo unsaon namo ni sa sunod nga mga adlaw. (We don’t know what to do in the next few days),” said Delapena. 

Read more: Barangay vs MILO, who holds the turf in the barangays?

Mayor Labella already warned barangays not to politicize the distribution of the relief goods and set aside political differences. 

The once busy corner of Escario Street and Gorordo Avenue is free of heavy traffic a week after the ECQ was implemented in Cebu City. | Alven Marie A. Timtim

The once busy corner of Escario Street and Gorordo Avenue is free of heavy traffic a week after the ECQ was implemented in Cebu City. | Alven Marie A. Timtim

As for the roads, the traffic is gone as public transport has been suspended. 

What used to be a jampacked area, the Osmeña Boulevard has turned into a ghost town. 

Read more: Brgy Tisa intensifies border control to prevent spread of COVID-19

However, people still walk around the streets especially at the Carbon market. The number of people is lesser than usual but greater than expected. 

This prompted Barangay Tisa to strictly uphold the quarantine passes and prohibit the random use of the pass. 

Even with the pass, a Tisa resident can still be reprimanded by the police and interogated why the person is out of their homes. 

The ECQ passes should only be used when buying food and other goods. 

Read more: 499 PUMs cleared in Cebu City

The Cebu City Health has recorded at least 22 cases of COVID-19 in the city. Four of these have died and four have recovered.

There are at least 200 persons under monitoring in the barangays while more than 80 people have symptoms of the COVID-19 awaiting testing. 

At least 499 PUMs (persons under monitoring) were cleared recently./dbs

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