Random Thoughts

Dagupan City vs. Pangasinan on travel protocol

By Leonardo Micua


THE new uniform, standard protocol for travelers approved by the national IATF, which was adopted outright by the Pangasinan provincial government on March 1, the very day it was supposed to be effective nationwide, seemed to have gotten a cold response from the Dagupan City government.

This is something strange because Dagupan is not an island of its own nor can it defeat COVID-19 alone by itself. Rather, it is a part of the whole and as such, must abide by the rules promulgated by higher authorities and in this case, the IATF. I suppose there  should be no question about that.

If Pangasinan and the rest of Region 1 with uniform Modified General Quarantine classification, are adopting the  newly approved  IATF protocol, there is no way Dagupan can defy it and head in the opposite direction. It has to be a team player.

A report of one radio station quoted Mayor Brian Lim saying, that Dagupan still wants exemption from the approved uniform  protocol for travelers, preferring the health protocol crafted by the city to continue to require the presentation by travelers of a travel authority and a valid medical certificate, plus the latest negative result of Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction test.

This, according to the mayor, will help protect his people from infection coming from the outside, especially now that the number of active COVID-19 cases counted by Dr. Ophelia Rivera, the city’s COVID-19 focal person, is now only down to just more than 20.

Indeed, Dagupeños ought to be protected too from the more infectious UK and South African variants and as of Wednesday night, there is a lot of apprehensions about the more lethal Brazilian mutation of the virus.

However, in insisting on the city’s own health protocol to be still in effect, Lim might be missing the point. Remember that the uniform health protocol approved by IATF was designed to ensure unhampered travel of people and of goods and services.

It is one sure strategy to put  the country back in the economic track by facilitating the  travel of domestic tourists as well as the unhampered travel of goods from the production sites and workers from their homes to their work places.

As a businessman by heart, does Mayor Lim not want Dagupan to get back on its track as a dominant economic force in Region I that it used to be a few years back? However on March 3, Dagupan PIO posted that only a QR code and a valid ID need to be presented when entering Dagupan, still very different from the rest of Pangasinan.

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Remember, that even prior to his defiance of the new IATF approved health protocol for travelers, Mayor Lim also didn’t appear keen on endorsing the resumption of bus operations of Dagupan City – Quezon City route.

He distanced himself from Gov. Pogi Espino’s stand readily endorsing the request of three bus companies to resume operations in their old routes adopting a point-to-point scheme.

Imagine this situation. If LTFRB central office grants the request of the bus companies to resume operations in routes requested by them not including Dagupan City as terminal, no passengers in Dagupan can board a bus from Lingayen or San Carlos City to Quezon City under the point-to-point scheme unless they board in Lingayen.

 Then, Dagupeños boarding a bus from Quezon City to Lingayen or San Carlos City cannot disembark or dropped off anywhere in the city, and can only disembark in Lingayen/San Carlos City. Their next problem is having to take another trip back to Dagupan.  

These are the inconveniences and difficulties that people have to bear when someone in power is insensitive to their needs. Only a misplaced ego and an anti-poor stance will not understand the needs of the people in this pandemic.

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Did you know that the pork you are buying were not raised in Pangasinan but in Albay? This is one of the reasons why the price of pork is more than P300 per kilo! According to Richard Barrozo, former president of the Meat Entrepreneurs Association of Mangaldan, high transport costs force them sell at a higher price.

Barrozo told the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that among the additional expenses incurred are from payments for documentation to be shown to the many quarantine checkpoints that traders have to pass through from Bicol to Mangaldan. (He was mum on the “tong” that normally has to be paid at each quarantine checkpoint.  Ouch!).

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