Ivatans want stricter border measures to keep Batanes COVID-19 free

Published July 29, 2020, 1:05 PM

by Manila Bulletin

By Jhon Dave Ablat

BATANES – In a bid to keep it free of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the provincial government of Batanes has been asked to implement stricter measures in securing the province’s borders after the nearby island of Calayan, Cagayan recorded its first cases of COVID-19.

Locals here have started to voice out their concern after reports said that fishermen from Calayan were still being allowed to dock, and unload goods at a fish port in Sitio Songsong, Uyugan, southern Batan island.

The residents noted that this continued despite a previous agreement that all trading and transport of goods and passengers between Calayan and Batanes will be suspended due to the pandemic.

As such, Batanes Governor Marilou H. Cayco has immediately requested the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to strictly monitor all ports in the province to assure that no vessel from Calayan or any other provinces in Luzon “docks, disembarks, or trades its products in Batanes, except for the regular commercial ships plying to the province”.

Cayco also called on local authorities to monitor and inform the Ivatan fishermen to refrain from conducting transactions with persons coming from Calayan and mainland Luzon to avoid possible transmission of COVID-19.

Officials here underscored that these measures were not being implemented to discriminate against these traders or fishermen, but only to keep Batanes COVID-19 free.

The municipality of Calayan recorded its first cases of COVID-19 last July 25 after two returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) tested positive.