Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella has appealed for "calm and understanding" from his constituents following the enforcement of a city-wide lockdown and the temporary suspension of quarantine passes of more or less 250,000 residents.
In a video uploaded on his official Facebook page late Tuesday night, Labella said the local government of Cebu City and other concerned agencies are now finalizing the guidelines of the lockdown.
He said he would have a meeting with concerned agencies, together with the police, on June 24, Wednesday, to discuss the situation.
"I am sure many questions arise as to what this means. I ask for your calm and understanding as we work out the details in coordination with the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and national agencies," Labella said.
"I know this is a difficult time for everyone. What we can do at this time is stay calm and informed. I urge everyone to work with us so that we can win this war against COVID-19 immediately," he added.
In the coming days, the city government would inform residents about how to get the new quarantine pass, according to Labella.
Central Visayas police chief Police Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro had earlier said that authorities would "reevaluate" the quarantine passes previously issued to authorities.
Labella assured the city residents that the local government would continue to assist each and every barangay amid the lockdown. He also reiterated that only authorized persons outside residence and essential workers are allowed to go out.
"The city government will continue to help the barangays, we are continuously coordinating with them. Please support your local officials," he said.
Labella said the strict measure came after an Inter-Agency Task Force team went around the city and still found that many people were outside their residences.
President Rodrigo Duterte had criticized the Cebuanos' compliance with the national government's measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He tasked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to go to Cebu City to oversee the situation there.
In a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Labella said residents seemed to have gone complacent when Cebu City was placed under general community quarantine as some of them no longer wear face masks.
"Noong nag-ECQ kami, we were very strict. Noong nag-GCQ na tayo, para bang nakalabas sa kulungan 'yung mga tao. Nakalimutan 'yung iba na mag-mask, no matter how much we try to tell them, hindi naman natin puwede ikulong lahat dahil ang dami," Labella said.
He noted that quarantine violators were penalized by cleaning and staying at the Plaza Independencia area for hours.
"Pinapalinis, pinapaexercise at 'yung isa ko pang tao, pinapasayaw ko ng Sinulog na para lang ano na what they're doing was wrong. Hindi natin sila puwedeng ilagay sa kulungan..." Labella said.
Visit to barangays
Cimatu and IATF officials are set to visit barangays with the highest number of COVID-19 cases within the day.
So far, Cebu City has 4,479 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said more policemen and soldiers will be deployed to Cebu City to help enforce the lockdown.
GMA News Online asked the Philippine National Police how many cops will be added in Cebu City, but its spokesman, Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, said he has no data yet.
Earlier, 100 policemen from Western and Eastern Visayas were deployed to Cebu City to assist in the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, as ordered by PNP chief Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa. — KBK/RSJ, GMA News