Baguio, Benguet mayors agree to tighten border controls

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BAGUIO CITY – Border controls in the different entry and exit points in Baguio City and Benguet will be tightened soonest to help in controlling the increase in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases possibly brought in by individuals coming in and out of the said areas.

This was one of the major agreements reached by Baguio and Benguet executives during last Monday afternoon’s meeting aimed at synchronizing the efforts of local governments to prevent the sudden surge  in the number of COVID-19 cases following the extension of the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) for both areas.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong rallied his fellow chief executives to make sure their border controls will be tightened to send a message to individuals attempting to enter Baguio and Benguet that it will not be easy to do so, especially if they have nothing important to do in the said places, during this time that every locality wants to control the spread of the deadly virus.

He said he will closely coordinate with the City Director of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and the Provincial Director of the Benguet Provincial Police Office to inform them about the border control agreements reached by the mayors as part of the overall efforts to prevent individuals from bringing to Baguio and Benguet the said illness.

Tuba Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan raised concern over the food passes being issued by the agriculture department where even small cars and sports utility vehicles are issued such permit when the said vehicles are not being used to transport products.

She disclosed that in several instances, personnel of the Tuba Municipal Police Station managing the different checkpoints flagged down closed vans and when the occupants of the said vehicles were asked to open their cargo area, the content of the vehicles were not food but actually individuals who do not even possess the required documents, thus, they were not allowed to enter the borders of the province.

On his part, Buguias Mayor Ruben Tindaan requested law enforcers to check the business permits of chicken dung dealers so that those who possess permits issued by the local governments in Benguet will be the ones that will be allowed entry to Baguio and Benguet while those without such permits will no longer be allowed entry right in the border of Benguet and La Union.

Magalong claimed Baguio City is concerned on the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases in the different parts of Benguet as the city is located within the heart of the province, thus, it is inclined to work with provincial and municipal officials on how to sustain the gains of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in both areas.

He urged his fellow chief executives to sustain their close working relationship so that all issues and concerns on the prevailing community quarantine will be acted upon based on what will be beneficial to the different local governments in the city and the province because what matters is the health and safety of their respective constituents.

Based on the data obtained from the city and provincial health offices, most of the confirmed COVID-19 cases have history of travel to areas with high COVID-19 incidents and returning locally stranded individuals and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were able to transmit the virus to their close contacts which happen to be their family members, relatives or friends.

By Dexter A. See

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