Boracay residents reeling from lockdown woes, plead for help

Impacted residents of the country's premier tourism destination needs a fresh infusion of assistance./iNEWS

BORACAY–Residents of some areas in Boracay Island are calling on the national government to help them cope with the COVID-19 lockdowns that are considered additional crushing blows to tourism stakeholders and inhabitants who have already spent more than 12 months struggling to survive the pandemic.

The Malay Inter-Agency Task Force earlier placed Zone 1 and Zone 7 of Barangay Manocmanoc under surgical lockdown and the entire Barangay of Balabag under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from April 1 to April 14.

Balabag reported a spike of 47 active cases from March 27 to April 4 while Manocmanoc logged 37 newly-confirmed ones. Malay has recorded 153 COVID-19 cases and 562 recoveries since the start of the pandemic.

Malay acting town mayor Frolibar Bautista said they need urgent help to support thousands of people after their movements were restricted to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

At least 3,953 households in Balabag and Manocmanoc were initially affected by the lockdowns.

“Kami ay humihingi ng tulong din sa Department of Social Welfare and Development at provincial government dahil limitado ang ating pondo sa quick response fund [We are also soliciting help from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the provincial government as we have limited quick-response funds],” Bautista said.

Nonetheless, private individuals, hotels and resorts, and organizations are collaborating to help supply residents with food packages and basic supplies. The Philippine Red Cross Malay-Boracay chapter also managed to call for donations for food for frontliners who have been logging extra hours to enforce the lockdown guidelines.

“Magtulungan at maging matatag tayo. Sama-sama nating sugpuin ang COVID-19 [Let us help each other; be resilient. Together, we shall defeat COVID-19], said Bautista, adding, “Stay at home; lumabas lamang for essential purposes [Stay at home; go out only for essential purposes].”

Health authorities also appealed for residents to practice social distancing and wear masks at all times.

The police, meanwhile, urged residents and tourists to be responsible in keeping the community safe to halt the spread of the deadly virus in Boracay Island.

P/Maj. Don Dicksie De Dios advised the people to follow guidelines that require them to stay home over the two-week lockdown period and only leave their homes when necessary.

“Ang ikatatagal ng enhanced community quarantine ay depende sa compliance sa restrictions. Nasa ating pagsunod ang ikapapanalo laban sa COVID-19. [The duration of the enhanced community quarantine will depend on our compliance with the restrictions. Winning the fight against COVID-19 relies on how well we follow (protocols).] We are still facing the sudden increase of COVID-19 cases, and the challenge to survive all this,” the Malay acting chief of police stressed.

De Dios said police officers will be visible in the affected communities to monitor possible lockdown breaches and to make residents aware of the importance of staying indoors while in isolation.

Only emergency cases and those considered as authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) are allowed to leave their residences. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)

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