Iloilo town mayor denies total lockdown

Mayor Jett Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Mayor Jett Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo denied on Saturday that he will be placing the whole town under total lockdown in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The purported lockdown was spurred by posts circulating on social media about persons under observation for the virus.

The mayor clarified that his pronouncements asking people to stay inside their homes was a voluntary program for the residents in exchange for food packs containing 25 kilograms of rice and dried fish.

Kabalo man kita nga mangin violation ina sang order ni President [Rodrigo Duterte] kag ni Governor Toto Defensor, so indi ni siya total or absolute lockdown, kundi nga voluntary stay-at-home nga program ukon kampanya. May mga households, may mga families kag even barangays nga gusto nila i-secure ang ila family sa exposure sa [COVID-19]. Ang worry lang nila is basi magutuman sila, so ang ginhimo naton, ma-supply kita sa ila 25 kilos nga bugas kada bulan kag uga, basta mag-stay at home sila. Wala ini pilitay, bale voluntary ini, kag may mga pamilya kita kag mga barangay nga nagapati, amu ni ang strongest weapon naton against COVID-19,” Rojas said.

But the mayor said barangays have the discretion to impose a lockdown.

The town’s island barangay of Punta Buri will be placed under total lockdown despite having no confirmed cases of COVID-19. It was decided upon by barangay officials after consultation with their residents.

Maayo-ayo gid, kay at least kun wala pa sang positive nga case sa ila nga barangay or carrier or whatever, masalbar ini sila, ini nga barangay,” Rojas said.

Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. placed the entire Iloilo province under ECQ through Executive Order No. 080 on March 19 in anticipation of the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province.



Rojas also denied a new case of a Person Under Investigation (PUI) in the town, after reports of a female child having fever spread in the town.

Ining fake news nga ini, may nahilanat nga bata nga babayi diri, gin-tagaan man ni siya paracetamol. In a few days, nadula man iya nga hilanat. Wala naman nag-balik ang iya nga hilanat. So indi naton ma-consider ni siya nga PUI,” he said.

He says that all residents who underwent quarantine in their homes are only Persons Under Monitoring (PUM).

As of 1 p.m. of March 28, 2020, there are only 27 out of 150 PUMs in Ajuy that remain in home quarantine.

The mayor said that one of these PUMs have already finished the recommended 14-day quarantine period but chose to continue in Iloilo City.

Another PUM continued the quarantine for another 14-day period because of the stigma in their community.

PUIs are persons with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 who have been previously exposed to confirmed cases and/or traveled to infected areas either here or abroad, while PUMs are persons who have no signs and symptoms but have travel history to infected areas and/or have had exposure to PUIs.



Rojas said they have already given 2,400 food packs to the town’s most vulnerable sectors, and they will be giving out 2,000 more food packs per week over the next few weeks in four batches.

He said that he has asked the town’s barangay captains to list down those who would be willing to receive or refuse the food packs so they may be able to determine their allocation.

Those who will continue to work amid the ECQ will not be eligible to receive these food packs.

The mayor also said that private individuals and corporations have already donated hundreds of rice sacks for the residents and frontline workers, and that more donations are continuously coming into the town.

He also said that despite their barangay’s total lockdown, Punta Buri will continue to receive assistance and that some businessmen from Iloilo City and Iloilo province have extended assistance to the island.



Rojas said that the municipality has provided transportation for frontliners in Ajuy.

“May sufficient kita nga transport as of now. So far, may ara kita nga 12 nga midwives diri sa Ajuy, may mga assigned barangays na sila, may 10 kita ka nurses kag tatlo ka doctors. As of today, wala pa man ako nakabaton sang reklamo nga may problema sila sa pagkadto sa sentro,” he said.