CEBU CITY (2nd UPDATE) - The Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas on Tuesday night announced the suspension of quarantine passes in Cebu City starting 10 p.m. Tuesday.
PRO 7 director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro made the announcement following a meeting with Cabinet secretaries who were in Cebu to assess the COVID-19 situation and the regional inter-agency task force leading the response to the crisis.
"The mayor [Edgar Labella] is acceding to the cancellation of the quarantine passes. So ang pagkakaintindi ko dito ay aayusin ang reissuance. One per family lang siguro ang quarantine pass," he said in a teleconference.
Ferro said they were ironing out details on the new arrangement and will issue more information to the public. The police and military are enforcing quarantine rules and manning border checkpoints.
The Cebu City Hall issued more than 250,000 quarantine passes when restrictions were imposed in mid-March to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
To date, the city has recorded the most number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 4,479 infections, data from the Cebu City Health Department showed. The city is the lone area in the country currently under enhanced community quarantine.
Frontline workers and those in essential services will be allowed to go outside on Wednesday pending the issuance of new quarantine passes.
"We will look into a solution na may schedule ang mga barangay sa paglabas para hindi grabe ang paglabas," Ferro said.
Authorities are also mulling "hard lockdowns" in 10 barangays with most COVID-19 cases. They are Barangays Mambaling, Luz, Labangon, Suba, Kamputhaw, Tejero, Sambag II, Duljo Fatima and Basak San Nicolas and around Cebu City Jail in Kalunasan.
Ferro said the public can stock up on essential items within their respective barangays.
"Wala munang makakalabas because they need to be at the area ng kanilang barangay lang. They cannot go out outside their barangay,” he added.
The suspension of quarantine passes received a mixed response on social media, with some saying it was announced on short notice.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier tasked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the government’s pandemic response in Cebu City, following an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in the area.
"Kayong mga taga-Cebu, bakit marami? Because you were too confident and too complacent about it. Parang binalewala ninyo kaya dumating,” he said. - With a report from Annie Perez, ABS-CBN News