By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers questioned on Monday, June 22 the government’s continued imposition of general community quarantine (GCQ) in Region II (Cagayan Valley) amid the very low rate of COVID-19 infection in the region.
During the virtual hearing of the House Special Committee on North Luzon Growth Quadrangle, Cagayan 3rd district Joseph Lara and Nueva Vizcaya lone district Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma asked the IATF’s “basis” for placing Cagayan Valley under GCQ, despite the recommendation of the Regional IATF (RIATF) to reclassify the region to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“What is the difference of Region II from other areas? Clear naman sa data ng Region II na mababang mababa kami dito (It is clear in the data of Region II, we have very low infection rate),” Lara said.
Leusen, Region II Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), relayed to the panel, chaired by Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Ramon Guico V that the Cagayan Valley RIATF recommended the classification of the Region II from GCQ to MGCQ in a Resolution No. 9 dated June 10, 2020.
“We submitted to IATF for consideration, but unluckily it was only the province of Batanes that was classified to MGCQ,” he said.
He noted that in Cagayan Valley Region, there are two provinces–Quirino and Batanes, which remain free of coronavirus disease.
According to him, the province of Quirino came up with its own resolution stating their intention to remain under GCQ.
“We will be drafting a letter inquiry to the IATF why despite having the category of safe zone for Region II, our request was partially granted (and) Batanes was the only one classified into MGCQ,” Leusen said.
Lara noted that Region II only recorded nine “active” COVID-19 cases with one death.
“Kung hindi nyo lang din pinapakinggan si Director Leusen, ano pa ang saysay ng regional IATF. (If you are not listening to Director Leusen, what is the purpose of the regional IATF). It is very clear, the data speaks for itself. Ilan lang total active (we only have few total active cases), only nine cases,” he said.
The Cagayan lawmaker said if Region II continues to remain under GCQ, the national government should continuously extend assistance to their constituents.
“I (have)nothing against our status now, pero sana tulungan kami ng national government na tingnan kami (but the national government should help us, look after us) . Hindi ‘yung ishutdown nyo kami (Instead of shutting us down), dito na walang mabibigay sa tao o maitutulong (no assistance will be given to the people),” he said.
Cuaresma also voiced the same concern, even as she urged the IATF to look into the region’s actual situation.