Regional Updates (09/23/20)

Boracay open to domestic tourists under eased quarantine by Oct. 1

BORACAY ISLAND will be open for tourists from areas under relaxed quarantine levels — general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ — starting October 1, the Tourism department announced. The Boracay inter-agency task force approved the expansion from only residents of Western Visayas Region during a meeting on Tuesday after a request from the Aklan provincial government. “The reopening of Boracay to new market sources signals a gathering momentum for domestic tourism all over the country,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Wednesday. Travelers of all ages are allowed, but those below 21 and above 60 years old should have no comorbidity. Visitors will have to present a negative PCR test result released 48 to 72 hours before travel. Travelers are also advised to quarantine immediately after the test. The Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan will be the only point of entry. There are so far 200 hotels and resorts with a combined 4,416 rooms on the island accredited by the Tourism department. The Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), on the other hand, is tempering expectations for business operations and revenues with the reopening, noting the unpredictability of the pandemic. “At this point, having expectations is setting ourselves up for possible disappointment so we view the reopening of Boracay as an experiment,” TCP President Jose C. Clemente III said in a mobile message on Wednesday. — Jenina P. Ibanez

Cavite governor orders ‘indefinite’ closure of golf club for event violating quarantine rules

THE GOVERNOR of Cavite has ordered the temporary closure of a golf course, where his family is a member and has real estate holdings, for organizing an event that violated quarantine protocols. In a statement on Wednesday, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla, Jr. said he issued an executive order dated September 22 directing the closure “indefinitely” of Sherwood Hills Golf Club located in Trece Martires City. “We shall await the response of the club management before we decide to allow its re-opening,” he said. Mr. Remulla said the club held a “Members’ Day,” which was actually a tournament where 91 members participated. “The intent of the organizers from the beginning was to conduct a tournament but was disguised at the last minute in order to evade sanctions,” he said. National guidelines still prohibit social gatherings, including sports activities, beyond the venue’s 50% capacity. The governor also cited that “spectators in all non-contact sports and exercises shall be prohibited, thus organized play is NOT allowed.” Mr. Remulla himself disclosed in his statement his family’s affiliation with the club. “We are not exempt, nor anyone affiliated with us, from the rule of law,” he said. — Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

Samar areas join list of red tide zones

THE BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned consumers against eating shellfish collected in the coastal waters of Daram Island and San Pedro Bay in Samar after the two areas tested positive for red tide contamination. In its 19th shellfish bulletin this year, BFAR said the two areas join the long list of red tide positive zones, namely: Puerto Princesa Bay in Palawan; Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; Tambobo and Siit Bays in Siaton and Bais Bay, in Negros Oriental; Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and the coastal waters of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from these areas are not safe for human consumption, but all other marine species can be eaten with proper handling. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Zamboanga City grants amnesty on property tax penalties until Dec. 31

THE ZAMBOANGA City government has started implementing an amnesty program for all penalties, surcharges and interests on all unpaid real estate taxes up to this year as part of its recovery plan from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. The condonation program, which will be in effect until Dec. 31, is based on Ordinance 542 passed early this month by the city council after Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar certified it as urgent. In a statement from the local government, the City Treasurer’s Office appealed to all property owners “to avail of the amnesty, a rare opportunity granted by the local government to help delinquent owners settle their accounts at a lower cost.” The city council also approved an amnesty for penalties on transfer tax of real property for the period May 31, 2020 and prior years, with the payment deadline set Nov. 30.

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