On April 11, 2021, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas issued Executive Order No. 33, Series of 2021 outlining new guidelines on inbound travel to Iloilo City as well as additional health intervention measures. Now exactly two weeks after, many affected residents are complaining about how the procedures that the city government set in place is making it doubly hard for Iloilo City residents, especially locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), to go home to this southern metropolis even after a dramatic drop in active coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 cases of late.
According to the complaining city residents, as a result of EO No. 33, returning Iloilo City residents must obtain a Travel Coordination Permit (TCP) through the S-PaSS Travel Management System, which is generally okay until instructed that you must first need to get a Certificate of Residency from the respective barangay in Iloilo City where you are a resident (In the case of non-residents, a copy of hotel or accommodation establishment booking should suffice).
How hard is that? If you have other members of the family with you in the city, it won’t be that difficult as you can just ask a family member or close relative to secure a barangay certification for you and then have it sent to you online. Easy.
But Iloilo City, as we all know, is a metropolitan city where it is not uncommon to see someone living alone or with just a small family that asking a family member to go to the barangay hall to secure whatever certification you need would already be a stretch in itself, especially with the ongoing pandemic.
Now, what if you have your family with you during the trip and your closest relatives are miles away? Then that makes it a real problem, especially as most barangays don’t have an online presence and would be unable to help you even when they can and are willing to.
And let us not start with the many requirements that they would still have to go through prior to and after landing at the Iloilo Airport because that in itself would require another column.
While the many measures imposed by the city government on returning residents sure helped in the huge drop in active cases in Iloilo City (it is now fifth with the most number of active COVID-19 cases in the region) since it was enforced a couple of weeks back–and I very well commend them for that–it would not be fair for returning residents to endure this much ‘suffering’ when all they want is to go back into the comforts of their own home.
Only a couple of weeks ago, Antique was in the midst of a mini-COVID-19 outbreak. From a few rare cases until late March, active cases suddenly ballooned to a few hundreds, with the province getting 263 new cases from April 5-11, 2021, and an additional 236 cases the following week from April 12-18.
For a time late last week, Antique had 567 active cases and sat at third in the region with the most number of active cases for the week ending April 18. But now, somehow, new cases are on a downtrend. While it still occupies the third spot in the active cases list among the highly-urbanized cities and provinces in Western Visayas next to Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, infections are ebbing and present active cases are now at 432, exactly 135 cases down from last week, thanks in part to 253 COVID-19 patients getting cured of the virus this week alone.
If further transmission is prevented, and conditions of the positive patients improve, we could see active cases dropping in the next couple of days. They just have to make sure they prevent a similar outbreak of this magnitude again in the future because a second wave could be deadlier than the first as evidenced by the 8 lives that were lost this month alone compared to the single life that COVID-19 took in Antique during the first full year of the pandemic.