Iloilo borders closed anew

By Joseph B.A. Marzan


Residents of other provinces in Western Visayas cannot enter Iloilo in the meantime.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. confirmed on Wednesday that he will once again order the closure of travel between Iloilo and its neighbors in the region during the extended Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) period.

Defensor issued Executive Order No. 128-E outlining the reinstatement of border restrictions to neighboring provinces and Bacolod City during the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) period on July 1 to 15, 2020.

Under the new EO, residents of the province, Iloilo City, and Guimaras who are currently staying in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental and Bacolod City should return to or re-enter the province on or before July 3, 2020.

Persons from the said places who fail to beat the July 3 deadline will be considered by the province as Locally-Stranded Individuals (LSIs), and will be subject to the national government’s regulations on LSI repatriations.

Residents of Iloilo City and Guimaras who will travel to Iloilo province are allowed provided they present government issued IDs indicating their addresses.

The regulations include a Medical Certificate from the originating Local Government Unit (LGU), travel authority from the Police Chief or the Governor, and prior coordination with the Provincial Government and their municipal LGU.

The province is closing its borders to non-essential travel of residents from Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Negros Occidental from July 1 to 15, but it may be lifted at any time before the end of the MGCQ period.

Transportation of cargo and supplies to the province and Iloilo City is exempted from the border restrictions.

In a phone interview, Defensor told Daily Guardian that the move aims to provide the national government ample time and space to “straighten up” their guidelines.

The governor cited the suspension of the repatriation of LSI and the regulation on travels of Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR).

“We are closing the borders subject to the basic exceptions, including Negros, for the duration of the MGCQ, but it can be lifted once we have straightened our concerns with the national government. We have some insecurity with some ports of destination like Luzon and Cebu and national government issuances like the suspension of LSI trips and rules on APOR travel,” Defensor said.

The governor expounded on his concerns with returning LSIs, saying that several persons were travelling through ports in Dumangas town and Aklan province even after the flight suspensions.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas mentioned that the governor was considering closing the borders due to unwarranted entry of LSIs through its land borders.

“The implementation of the suspension, like in the Port of Dumangas, is not certain, so there are many who slip through there. We will have a problem if that would be the situation, especially if they go through the ports in Aklan. There have already been incidences in past days, after we suspended LSI flights, as I’ve heard, and that’s what we are avoiding,” Defensor said.

He said that he will lift the border restrictions once they deem the borders to be secure.

“It can be lifted for as long as we are secure at the borders with our neighboring provinces and the way things are being handled in the ports of destination. We are just protecting our quarantine status here in Iloilo,” Defensor added.