The Negros Occidental Provincial Legal Officer said the executive order issued by Mayor Evelio Leonardia banning vessels from China, Hong Kong and Macau from docking in Bacolod seaports to prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) is in consonance with existing laws and a Department of Health circular.
PLO Alberto Nellas Jr. issued his opinion in response to a query of Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.
Last week Lacson said he would meet his provincial legal team to determine if a provincewide ban on the entry of vessels from China, Hong Kong and Macau is feasible in Negros Occidental.
Leonardia ordered the ban in Bacolod following the arrival of MV Unicorn Bravo from Xiamen, China, carrying 3,300,000 MT of ammonium sulphate in the waters near the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. port last week.
The vessel, that is registered in Panama, has a crew of 15 Chinese and 4 Myanmar nationals and has not been allowed to dock at the BREDCO port.
Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, Philippine Coast Guard Negros Occidental chief, said as of yesterday MV Unicorn Bravo remained in the anchorage area beyond the BREDCO port awaiting orders on where to proceed.
Meanwhile, the MV Catherine vessel bearing a Panama flag that arrived from Nghi Son Port in Vietnam with 19 Vietnamese and four Indian nationals as crew was still unloading 21,000 MT of cement at the BREDCO Port in Bacolod yesterday, he said.
It is scheduled to complete unloading by March 5, Benjamin added.
Nellas, in his three-page legal opinion furnished the governor, pointed out that the World Health Organization had declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
He also pointed out that the Philippines has confirmed to have had cases of COVID -19 and is at risk to outbreaks of emerging a re-emerging diseases by virtue of the speed of travel, the magnitude of travellers going in and out of the country and its strategic geographic location.
The Local Government Code provides that every Local Government Unit within their respective territorial jurisdictions should promote the health and safety of their constituents, Nellas said.
As such, he said, the provincial government can carry out such emergency measures as may be necessary.*
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