The Governor of Oriental Mindoro, Humerlito (Bonz) Dolor on March 13, 2020 instigated a province wide Community Home Quarantine to all residents in a pro-active response to prevent and early combat the forthcoming Corona Virus 2019 (SARS_2) infection to the province.
On March 16, 2020, President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte announced his Presidential Order to “Lock down” all the region of Luzon which includes Region 4B MIMAROPA, being the islands and provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Lubang and Palawan.
The President’s decision to protect Filipino’s, foreigners and visitors to the Philippines of the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a devastation to the country’s tourism industry without any specific financial or planning support by Department of Tourism (DOT). April through May is the Philippines peak local and foreign tourism season. All tourism establishments are closed or operating at a loss.
As of April 6, 2020, Provincial Governor declared Oriental Mindoro, it’s 13 municipalities and City of Calapan COVIDFREE , which means there are no people infected with the virus and only 8 remaining as Persons Under Investigation. There are no more virus testing awaiting results from the Philippines Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITD) for the people of Oriental Mindoro. The citizens and residents of the Province have succeeded in strictly adhering to the Governor and President’s Executive orders to stay home, practice good personal health protocols and social distancing.
Puerto Galera is fundamentally a primary tourism town and one of the top 4 destinations for Filipino and foreign visitors. The Tourism industry provides 90% of local income since there is virtually no agriculture, manufacturing, or other productive industry due to it’s vast mountainous terrain. It’s unique geographic location puts it literally at “the end of the road” in the north of Oriental Mindoro as there is no connecting road to Occidental Mindoro. All imported produce, materials and consumables by road or sea transport result in cargo and delivery operators returning to their points of origin via sea at Batangas Port (Luzon Island) or via road to Calapan City without any consignment or back loading. Overall excess costs to provide supplies to the residents of Puerto Galera puts the town at a disadvantage for competitiveness.
During this time of Enhanced Community Quarantine or Lockdown including the additional local government Executive Orders placed by Governor Dolor and Puerto Galera Mayor Rocky Illagan, implemented after March 16, 2020 have inflicted great necessary inconvenience and financial loss to residents and business. The result of these ultra strict executive orders focusing particularly on restricting movement of people within the town and province, along with patient compliance by people has successfully resulted in no cases of COVID-19 within the entire province.
Hopefully, Oriental Mindoro’s Governor and two Congressman, Paulino (Doy) Salvador C. Leachon of the first district with Alfonso (Boy) V. Umail Jr. of the second district will consult with the national government towards the best solution of balancing health safety and financial security for the good people of the Province. The Luzon “Lockdown” may be extended beyond April 12, 2020 which, if in it’s current form to include Oriental Mindoro may unnecessarily incur further hardship and expense to the National, Provincial and local government units. We wait for the more informed and better judgement of our political leaders.
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