DILG overrules Bacolod ban on vessels from China, HK, Macao


The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has overruled the executive order (EO) issued by Mayor Evelio Leonardia which prohibits the docking of vessels from China, Hong Kong and Macao in any of its seaports as a precaution against the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a press conference recently, Leonardia presented to reporters a copy of the letter of Secretary Eduardo Año informing him that the EO does not adhere with the Department of Health (DOH) circular which establishes guidelines on the quarantine anchorage of vessels coming from China, including Hong Kong and Macao.

“(U)pon reading the aforesaid EO, we note that it contradicts the recent issuance of the DOH Department Circular No. 2020-0034…in so far as outrightly banning all cargo vessels from or arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macao to any Bacolod seaports,” Año said.

“It is, therefore, the position of the department that the EO is not in accordance with the DOH circular. In this regard, you are hereby directed pursuant to the oversight power of the President as delegated to the undersigned to ensure that the EO is in accordance with national government issuances,” he added.

Leonardia said Año had asked him to submit a copy of EO No. 11 and when he attended the joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police command conference in Malacañang recently, Año also approached him and told him about the DOH guidelines.

“In effect, we have to issue a corresponding EO. We worked on this on Saturday upon consultation with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the port operators,” he added.

In EO No. 12 dated March 7, which modifies EO No. 11 issued by the mayor on February 26, Leonardia stated that vessels from China, Hong Kong and Macao may be permitted to dock in any port of Bacolod or any place these ships may be served under its territorial jurisdiction provided that strict directives under the DOH Circular No. 2020-0034 and 2020-0034-A will be complied with.

The modified order stated that “no disembarkation of any crew of subject vessels may be allowed at any time” and “no embarkation or boarding of the subject vessels by any person shall be allowed at any time”.

Lt. Cmdr. Jansen Benjamin, head of PCG-Negros Occidental, said that with the issuance of the modified EO, they have deployed personnel at the berthing area of M/V Unicorn Bravo, which was previously prohibited from unloading its cargo in the city after arriving from Xiamen on February 24.

The vessel was already allowed to dock at the Bredco port at around 2 p.m. on Sunday and its crew started to unload its fertilizer cargo at 3 p.m. on Monday.

“We are keeping watch 24/7 to ensure their compliance, that there will be no disembarkation and embarkation,” Benjamin said.

He also said that as of Monday, there are no vessels yet from China scheduled to arrive in Bacolod ports, only those from Vietnam and Thailand.

“As of now, we don’t have any information or notice of arrival of vessels from China,” he added. (Nanette Guadalquiver ndb via pna)

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