The Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 19 got the Environment Department canceling all its scheduled events for March this year.
In the light of the proactive move by the city and provincial governments of Iloilo to protect its people from the local transmission of COVID 19, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has decided to cancel all of its environmental events this month of March 2020.
“We have to obey the rules and protect ourselves from this dreaded virus that is now gripping the world with fear. It is necessary for us to cancel our scheduled events for the month as protecting life is more important right now,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of DENR Region 6.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas issued Executive Order (EO) No. 50-A (an amendment to EO Nos. 042-A and 050) series of 2020, while Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. signed EO No. 028-C, series of 2020 to protect the residents in city and province of Iloilo and prevent the spread and/or local transmission of COVID. Travel restrictions, discouraging mass gathering, school suspension, observance of social distancing, and community quarantine procedures are all provided in the two signed EOs.
In support of these initiatives, the DENR Region 6 canceled its scheduled activities for the month of March, namely: International Day of Forests (March 21), World Water Day (March 22), Earth Hour (March 28), and Women’s Month activities (March 1-31).
As to the observance of Earth Hour, Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua, Regional Director of Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) issued an advisory encouraging everyone to still take part in the global lights off the event by turning off all non-essential lights in their homes, establishments, and offices on March 28 at 8:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
As a preventive measure, the DENR 6 management also provided alcohol and sanitizer for use of all its employees, suspended the holding of flag rites and use of biometrics, closed the canteen for two weeks until April 14, and put up three Designated Receiving Areas (DRAs) at the Courtyard (regional office), at the Surveys and Mapping Division, and at Manuel L. Lagunilla Compound Ground Floor Lobby for those with documents to bring. Personnel is also discouraged to receive personal visitors or bring family members into the office.
This week, the DENR 6 has also adopted the four-day work week scheme in compliance with Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-02 signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The Memo Circular provides for alternate working arrangements to ensure the safety of the personnel while continuing to deliver essential services of the Department despite the COVID 19 threat.
Also, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has decided to cancel “LoveBoracay” 2020 events due to the threat of COVID 19, after the March 12 meeting attended by Malay Mayor Frolebar Bautista with TF member alternates presided by DENR USec Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr. representing Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as head of the Task Force.
LoveBoracay is a weeklong series of events celebrating the rehabilitation of the world-famous island. It is slated for April 26 – May 2. But this time, it has to be canceled.
DENR USec Benny Antiporda, when interviewed by the local media after the meeting, disclosed that “since the COVID 19 situation has not improved, and with the health of the attendees, organizers, and stakeholders, a primary consideration, the BIATF has decided to cancel this event.”