FAMOUS writer Mark Twain said, “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds. Let us consider that we are all partially insane.”
First, it was just a “crazy and stupid idea” that I floated. In fact, I said I might appear parochial, regionalistic, narrow-minded and funny for suggesting it. But that “crazy and stupid idea” turned out to be a brilliant and sound idea because no less than the National Government adopted it.
I am referring to my column last Wednesday titled “A crazy idea on local travel ban” where I suggested that the government should also impose a local travel ban or 14-day mandatory quarantine of people from Metro Manila, the country’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) epicenter, in view of the increasing number of local transmission there.
The Philippines is included in the travel ban of Qatar and passengers coming from Covid-affected countries even if they just made a brief stopover were placed under 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arriving here.
Why not adopt the same policy and protocol for the residents from the National Capital Region (NCR), where the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing every day, who wish to visit other parts of the country. We are very strict with people from the other countries but we are relaxed with our “kababayans.” This is to avoid the spread of the disease in our locality.
Indeed, that “crazy idea” turned out to be a sound idea. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte adopted it based on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The Chief Executive declared a “community quarantine” for the people of NCR as the code alert system for the Covid-19 public health was raised to Code Red Sub-level Two.
This, following the pronouncement of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the Covid-19 has reached “pandemic level.” As of this writing, the country has more than 50 Covid-19 cases, mostly still in Metro Manila.
“Community quarantine” has the same effect as a “lockdown” as explained by President Duterte in his nationwide radio and television address last Thursday night. They don’t want to use “lockdown” as it might create panic. But it has the same effect.
Classes are suspended up to April 12 while work in the various agencies under the Executive department is also suspended for a month without prejudice to the formation of a skeletal workforce for the continuance of the delivery of basic services.
Private companies are advised to adopt flexible work schemes and arrangements.
Now, here is what I suggested in that Wednesday column on travel ban or travel restrictions. Under Paragraph B, sub-paragraph 7 of the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution No. 11, “Land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended after the expiration of 48 hours from issuance of this Resolution and the aforementioned measures shall be subject to close monitoring and reassessment after the expiration of seven days from the issuance of this resolution. This order will take effect midnight tonight (Friday).”
In my column, I suggested a local travel ban. And this is it.
The airport in Pasay will be closed to domestic flights but it is open for incoming and outgoing international flights. For those going to the provinces, passengers must fly via the Clark International Airport.
Foreigners coming from countries confirmed with local transmission of the Covid-19 shall be denied entry.
However, exempted from this rule are foreign spouses and children of Filipinos, holders of permanent resident visas and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippine government.
Seaports in Manila will no longer allow the docking of domestic sea vessels. Land transportation coming in to Manila will be denied entry. However, residents from nearby provinces who are working in the NCR will be allowed entry as long as they can present their company IDs.
Travel restrictions will be reviewed on a daily basis. This will practically affect businesses, especially the aviation industry and the entire economy.
Davao City and Bohol province are also adopting “community quarantine” for one week. Even Boholanos are prohibited from going home. Patay, unsaon na lang ang mag-fiesta. Ang mga Bol-anon mouli ra ba gyud ug fiesta kay magkihay. (What about the fiesta? Boholanos love to go home to celebrate the fiesta.)