A disco and a dance: Cebu City probes violations under strictest lockdown level

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2020 08:03 AM | Updated as of Jul 01 2020 03:43 PM

Armed policemen man a checkpoint along a road in Cebu City, June 24, 2020, after the government tightened its enhanced community quarantine restrictions due to rising cases of COVID-19 infections. Alex Badayos, AFP

MANILA — Cebu City is investigating 2 mass gatherings that allegedly violated protocols to contain the coronavirus pandemic despite the strictest lockdown level imposed there, Mayor Edgardo Labella said Wednesday.

Labella said he ordered the city attorney to look into a "disco" held in Barangay Calamba on Monday night and a Sinulog dance presentation in Barangay Basak San Nicolas over the weekend.

The mayor did not give additional details about the disco, but said he was told by the village chief of Basak San Nicolas that the Sinulog event was not supposed to have any crowd and instead should have just involved a procession of Señor Sto. Niño.

"Ang dami ngang SAF (police Special Action Force), pero nonetheless nag-violate pa rin kaya nga sinabi ni President na ang tigas talaga ng ulo ng mga Bisaya," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(There are already many SAF troopers here, but the lockdown was still violated. That's why the President said Visayans are hardheaded.)

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President Rodrigo Duterte from June 16 placed the urban center under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which limits economic activity to utility services, food, water and other essential sectors. He announced Tuesday that the city will remain under ECQ, the strictest of 4 lockdown levels, until July 15.

"Lockdown talaga iyan kasi prohibited talaga ang paglabas, unless ang purpose mo ay magbili ng pagkain, magbili ng mga medisina at iyong mga may exception, mga APOR (authorized persons outside of residence)," said Labella.

(That's a lockdown because venturing outside homes is banned, unless your purpose is to buy food, medicine and you are exempted, the APORs.)

Cebu City has the highest COVID-19 tally in the country, with 4,639 cases as of Monday. Of this figure, 987 were tallied in the last 14 days, according to the health department.

Nearly half of the city's patients had recovered, which is about double the national recovery rate of 25 percent, said Labella.

He attributed the spike in cases to the faster release of coronavirus test results, which used to take 10 days, now down to 2 days.

Cases also increased due to informal settlements, where social distancing is hard to enforce and residents prefer to stay outside their cramped and poorly ventilated homes, he said.