By Aira Genesa Magdayao
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – Airline companies have started to ferry stranded tourists to Cebu, Iloilo and Clark as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was closed to domestic flights starting March 15 to comply with President Duterte’s order to impose a community quarantine in Metro Manila.
This was disclosed by Provincial Administrator Jay Bolusa, who said that, on the airline companies’ inbound trip to Palawan, they could also accommodate Palaweños stranded in Cebu, Iloilo and Clark.
“If the airline are willing to fly out passengers from here to other airports then it will be okay. Palaweños who stranded from Clark of Cebu will be ferried going here provided that they will present proof of residence in Palawan,” Bolusa said.
On Friday, hundreds of tourists flocked to the Puerto Princesa City International Airport to check their flight after the announcement of the ban.
Many complained that the ban was being imposed at such a short notice.
“I don’t know what to do. I am crying because this is too much. We’re just arrived in Puerto Princesa on Friday and set to go in El Nido but here it is. We have to find a flight just to go back home. Its my first time to be here and it is a very bad experience,” a female tourist from England lamented.
“I think the problem is the short notice to cancel all incoming and outgoing flights. Of course the airline will follow order from the city until these both parties realized that there are hundreds of tourists. I am planning to spend two weeks here but my stay is nearly one week because I have to rush to the airport,” another tourist from Austria said.
Palawan has 11 persons under investigation (PUI) for suspected infection of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including two municipal councilors in Coron.
Municipal Health Officer Dr. Allan Guintapan said the councillors under investigation reportedly attended the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) in Manila on February 26.
He said they were currently at the Culion General Sanitarium Hospital, and their specimens were already collected for confirmatory test at Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
In line with the strict guidelines imposed on all local government units, military and police also set up border checkpoints in some town of Palawan such as Culion, Coron, El Nido, Dumaran, Taytay, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza and Balabac to check the temperature of passing passengers and drivers.
The towns of Culion and Narra also issued an order imposing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
A majority of the LGUs has ordered class suspensions from March 14 until further notice.
“President Duterte [recently] directed the LGUs to take the initiative to manage on how to prevent this virus,” Department of Education (DepEd) Information Officer Grace Estefano said.
Holy masses of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) will be limited to 50 individuals, and admission will be on a “first come, first serve” basis in observance of ‘social distancing’ in line with the COVID-19 prevention.
“Pursuant to the order of our health authorities, attendance of the congregation must not exceed 50 persons. We will apply the first come, first serve basis,” the Puerto Princesa Vicareate stated in an announcement in its Facebook page.