BAGUIO CITY – The City Government vehemently denied the earlier claim of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the city is under lockdown due to the 2019 Novel Corona Virus (nCoV) scare as city officials claimed that the country’s undisputed Summer Capital remains open to the influx of tourists.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong reiterated that what were postponed were government-led events that often draw influx of people as part of the proactive measures to protect the health and safety of the people.
However, the city chief executive claimed that for private organizers, the postponement of their scheduled events in the city will depend on the organizers themselves to decide on what measures to take to help the city government efforts in safeguard the health and safety of the people.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Lorenzana was quoted by a government television network to have interpreted the City Mayor’s previous statement on the postponement of some major events in the city as placing the city under lockdown that caused an uproar and concern in the city.
Among the postponed major crowd drawing events include the grand opening parade of the 36th edition of the Panagbenga or the Baguio Flower Festival, the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) regional sports competition, and the International Jazz Festival while there is no decision yet on the conduct of the grand streetdancing parade on February 29 and the grand float parade on March 01, as well as the week-long Session Road in Bloom.
The postponement of some of the major crowd drawing events in the city was followed by a recent announcement from the leadership of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for its total closure to visitors until further announcements, thus, it is only the Academy that is under lockdown.
While there are already 3 confirmed nCoV cases in the country, regional health authorities disclosed there are 4 Persons Undergoing Investigation (PUI) in the Cordillera who has a history of travel to one of the countries that have confirmed nCoV cases.
City businessmen have expressed disappointment on how the nCoV scare was handled in the city because bookings in hotels and tourist arrivals have drastically declined over the past several days which could lead to heavy losses on their part amidst their bid to promote the city as one of the must-see places in the country, especially during the conduct of the major Panagbenga crowd drawing events.
Concerned sectors in the city called on local and health officials to re-assess their strategies in coming out with statements on the nCoV scare to prevent any serious repercussion to the city’s tourism industry which is its major economic driver and to entice more people to visit the city considering it remains free from the dreaded viral illness.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis