By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia is open to the idea of resuming sea travel between the city and Iloilo City following more than a month of suspension due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases.
According to Leonardia, he forwarded the issue during his recent meeting with other local chief executives and governors in the region.
The mayor said the idea was first forwarded by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and he reciprocated it.
Leonardia said he is okay with resuming sea travel as long as the minimum health protocols are strictly imposed.
“Given that we have the same quarantine category, I told them the ball is in your court. We’re ready as long as the health protocol is strictly followed,” he said.
Last week, Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental chief, Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, said fast craft operations between Bacolod City and Iloilo City have yet to resume, pointing out the decision of reopening sea travel lies between Leonardia and Treñas.
Benjamin said roll-on/roll-off (roro) trips between Bacolod City and Dumangas, Iloilo remain operational, although they are limited to serving rolling cargoes, frontliners, government officials, and authorized persons outside of residence (APORs). However those traveling are still required to present documents prior to boarding.
Locally stranded individuals are also allowed to travel via roro, however, aside from their travel documents, they must also have prior clearance with their respective local government units.
Meanwhile, since Boracay island is now open for local tourists, Benjamin said Negrenses who are going to the popular holiday destination are required to show a negative RT-PCR test taken three days prior to their trip.
Benjamin said Boracay-bound tourists are allowed to use the roro vessels in order to travel to Caticlan, but they must also present a valid accommodation booking prior to entering the island./DGB, WDJ