Guv nixes lifting of liquor ban in Iloilo

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. dismissed the idea of lifting the ban on the sale of liquor and other alcoholic beverages amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

The prohibition is mandated by Executive Order (EO) No. 080 issued on March 20, 2020, which placed the province under ECQ in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The ECQ was extended from April 14 to April 30 through EO No. 102 which was issued on April 8.

Defensor earlier said they are drafting a new EO that will place the province under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

Defensor said he will not lift the liquor ban yet in the planned GCQ.

“Liquor products are mostly present in local fiestas, and we’ve already banned the holding of fiestas. People aren’t going out, and we’ve really minimized [gatherings]. When we finish the new EO, we will be moving away from the ECQ. But our direction is, as of now, I can say we will not lift the liquor ban. It’s important in social distancing. Do you know what happens to social distancing when alcohol has an effect on people? That’s really the problem,” he said.

Defensor also said that local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo are implementing the prohibition well.

“In our monitoring of the LGUs in the province, the liquor ban is being implemented well,” he said.

On April 21, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas lifted the sale of liquor in the city, raising calls via social media for Defensor to follow suit.

But Defensor said he cannot lift the ban because the city and the province are different, and should be treated differently.

“That of [Iloilo City], our circumstances are different from theirs. Our reasonable expectation on that on the side of business is that it will have a difference in the treatment of the business sector between the city and the province. Although that is not sure because Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city, but Iloilo Province is an agricultural province that’s why we can expect different approaches,” he said.

Treñas re-imposed the ban on April 22 following violent incidents hours after it was lifted.

Data from the Department of Health indicated that as of April 22, Iloilo province has 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 11 active cases, three recoveries, and four deaths.