MANKAYAN, Benguet – The municipal government recently started opening its doors for local visitors as part of the ongoing efforts of the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases to gradually and safely revive the heavily impacted economy.
Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong pointed out that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the municipality remains unpredictable even with the significant decrease in the number of cases over the past several weeks thus there is still a need for the concerned stakeholders to continue assessing and evaluating the situation before easing up the prevailing restrictions.
He clarified that local tourist are those coming from the different towns of the province who want to visit some destinations in the municipality.
However, Mayor Ayong stipulated that the conduct of paragliding remains suspended as the municipal government is still evaluating the daily COVID-19 situation to ensure that the municipality is really ready for the influx of paragliding enthusiasts once local officials decide to open this activity.
The municipal chief executive disclosed that while there were zero COVID-19 cases in the municipality last Tuesday, there was a single critical case reported last Wednesday which makes the situation unpredictable and prevents decision-makers in making a concrete action to ease up the prevailing restrictions.
According to him, the local tourism industry plays a crucial role in helping revive the heavily impacted economy with the expected resumption of work of those that had temporarily stopped earning income during the pandemic and the enhancement of economic activities and sources of livelihood by the people.
Ayong explained that concerned government agencies and the municipal government cannot afford to make drastic decisions on sensitive matters that require thorough assessment and evaluation by experts so as not to compromise the health condition of the people thus local officials will leave the matter on easing up of the restrictions on the arrival of tourists to the health sector which is fully aware of the real situation.
The mayor stipulated that in the meantime, only local tourists who will be allowed to visit the different tourist spots in the municipality to ensure that local tourism industry stakeholders can start recovering from the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Mankayan is one of the most frequented municipalities in northern Benguet because of its proximity to the Ilocos Region and the central Cordillera. It plays host to the vast tracks of vegetable farms in the upland barangays and the mining communities in the lowland areas.
Ayong rallied residents and local visitors to sustain their compliance to the minimum public health standards because the threat of the deadly virus still remains and that the pandemic is not yet over for them to ensure the health and safety of everyone.