Cebu police said Sunday they would file charges against the organizer of a dance procession that wound its way through the streets of Barangay Basak San Nicolas on Saturday, drawing a crowd in a village classified as a COVID-19 hotspot.
Reports quoted Police Col. Cydric Earl Tamayo, acting Cebu City police chief, as saying they had identified the organizer of the Sinulog dance and would file a case against him for violating quarantine restrictions.
The dance involved more than 10 people but caught the attention of residents in the area who gathered to watch it.
A statement from the barangay Facebook page said the dance was held without the knowledge of Barangay Captain Norman Navarro.
Photos of the event posted on social media showed a crowd lining up to watch the dance and the procession of the image of the Sto. Nino.
Cebu City is under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Barangay Basak San Nicolas and 11 other barangays have been identified as hotspots for the outbreak.
READ: 12 virus hot spots in Cebu bared; LSIs passes on hold
A Joint Task Force Covid Shield official on Sunday said Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos and soldiers would be deployed in Cebu City to contain the “unnecessary” movement of people during the ECQ.
“We have only one enemy here and this is the invisible coronavirus. We would like to contain the unnecessary movement of the people in the area,” Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, JTF Covid Shield commander said in an interview with radio dzBB.
“The deployment of police commandos and soldiers here in Cebu City is not a militarization as some people would describe it, and therefore, is not a wrong approach,” he said.
He said the strong presence of policemen and soldiers in Cebu City “is neither meant to scare the people of Cebu City nor curtail their rights.”
“We are here because it is necessary, we are here to help, we are here to protect the people of Cebu City, and we are here to strengthen our frontline against the spread of Covid-19,” he added.
READ: Cebu virus cases spike further
Eleazar said quarantine violators in Metro Manila went down from 3,000 to 1,000 following the deployment of SAF troopers and soldiers when the NCR was still under ECQ.
Upon approval of the PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, at least 150 SAF commandos were deployed in Cebu City to strictly enforce the ECQ rules particularly the wearing of face masks, observing proper physical distancing and refraining from engaging in mass gatherings.
Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander of the military’s Central Command (CentCom), also deployed soldiers to help enforce ECQ rules in Cebu City.
Following reports that the Cebu City health care system was being overwhelmed by the rise in COVID-19 cases, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III ordered the deployment of Doctors to the Barrios.
“The doctors will not be permanently deployed in Cebu City but will only provide relief similar to previous temporary assignments (i.e. Marawi, Yolanda),” the DOH statement said.
“The assigned doctors are rural health physicians (RHP) and not municipal health officers (MHO). Meaning the municipality they serve already has a municipal-hired doctor ensuring that the municipalities they serve will not be left doctor-less during their assignment. Health care services will continue,” the DOH said.
“The very nature of the DTTB program is to post doctors, usually in most remote areas where access to health care is a challenge, and where quality health care service is most needed. COVID-19 cases have reached a critical point in Cebu City and the department is grateful to those who have risen to this patriotic call,” the DOH said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has also deployed a medical team consisting of nine doctors, 10 nurses, and 13 medical aides to Cebu City.
Headed by Maj. Maria Adesitas Sagario, its members underwent precautionary swab testing and flu vaccination before their flight at 8 a.m. via Philippine Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft.
"We are proud of this team for stepping up in this dangerous but very important mission. This is what it means to be a soldier and we know more than anyone that no danger of disease will stop us from accomplishing our mission," AFP vice chief-of-staff Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr., said in a statement during the send-off ceremony at the Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
Collado was joined by National Task Force-Covid-19 head Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who is in charge of enforcing Covid-19 protocols in Cebu City.
Galvez lauded the AFP medical team for answering the call for help from medical front-liners in Cebu City.
So far, the AFP has already deployed 405 medical personnel in different emergency quarantine facilities nationwide, including the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, World Trade Center and Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Metro Manila.
Over 1,500 doctors, nurses, and military medical auxiliary are also deployed in military treatment facilities all over the country.
Also on Sunday, the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) called for the mass hiring of nurses with a minimum salary of P32,000 a month and hazard pay to address the “severe understaffing” in Cebu City.
The FNU said it was high time that the government heeds the call for wage increases for government nurses, they said.
The FNU said a nurse in Cebu had informed them that nurses there have not received their hazard pay under the DOH program.
READ: Cimatu gets all powers vs. virus
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