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Caraga execs want designated anchorage for vessels from China

Caraga execs want designated anchorage for vessels from China
Alexander Lopez February 13, 2020

BUTUAN CITY -- Officials of the three coastal provinces in the Caraga Region issued a joint resolution Wednesday asking the national government to designate an anchorage and quarantine areas for all vessels from countries affected by coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19).

In a meeting in Surigao City on Wednesday, the governors of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Islands admitted that their provinces lacked the ability to "protect all their constituents and tourist from Covid-19.”

Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco Matugas and Dinagat Islands Gov. Arlene “Kaka” J. Bag-ao were present during the joint meeting, while Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander T. Pimentel was represented by Pedro M. Trinidad, the provincial administrator.

The three provinces host large-scale mines that ship nickel ore to China.

Late last week, Bag-o issued an executive order banning "mining vessels coming from China and other 2019 novel coronavirus affected countries."

However, Dinagat Islands Provincial Information Officer Jeffrey Crisostomo immediately clarified that "mining vessels" from China are not prohibited from loading ore from the province's nickel mines "as long as they follow the guidelines set by the Department of Health" (DOH).

Per the DOH guidelines issued on Feb. 4, all seagoing vessels from China and other countries affected by Covid-19 are not banned from entering the country but are required to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine at sea. The memorandum also ordered a "no disembarkation" policy for all ship personnel.

"Mining vessels from China are not prohibited from conducting business with mining companies in Dinagat Islands. The governor's EO is flexible in terms of mining vessels from China, but they must follow the DOH guidelines on quarantine of crew and other protocols from relevant government agencies such as Philippine Ports Authorities, Bureau of Customs, and Philippine Coast Guard," Crisostomo told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

According to the three governors, the establishment of anchorage and quarantine areas for mining vessels would ensure that the three provinces remain free from the dreaded respiratory viral disease.

In particular, they requested that the DOH, the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Quarantine, Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Immigration, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to identify a national anchorage and common quarantine area for all vessels which traveled from China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taipei that are entering Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

The resolution also asked the concerned agencies to undertake the necessary protocol in those designated areas prior to the entry of subject vessels to the said provinces.

The move of the three governors came after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 as public health emergency. They also noted the country already has three confirmed cases of Covid-19, with hundreds of others being verified because of their contact with the infected persons.

In an advisory on Wednesday, the DOH-Caraga said it has recorded a total of 21 individuals considered as PUMs or persons under monitoring, 16 of whom had already completed the monitoring period with no signs of respiratory infections.

DOH-13 said Caraga Region (composed of the Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands and six cities: Butuan City, Cabadbaran, Surigao, Tandag, Bislig and Bayugan) remains free of Covid-19. (PNA/With reporting from Danilo Adorador III)