Stronger together – BLISTT Mayors discuss the best course of action amidst the rising number of cases, the new Covid variant, and the call for eased border restrictions.

BAGUIO CITY – Baguio City Mayor and BLISTT (Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay) Council Chairman Benjamin Magalong called for a meeting to discuss the next steps after the expiration of the border restrictions advisory implemented from February 1 to 15 in the BLISTT area. Among the key decisions were the following: (1) Baguio City will recognize all medical certificates and clearances of LISTT residents acquired since February 1 as valid until February 28, and (2) Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs) are no longer required to submit medical certificates or clearances between BLISTT borders.

Following the order of Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas, BLISTT Vice Chairman and Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan called for eased border restrictions between the LISTT municipalities particularly on the requirement for medical clearance/certificate. Mayor Magalong later said that the citizens of Baguio will likewise comply with measures that the LISTT mayors will implement. The BLISTT Chairman encouraged the local government units (LGUs) to implement stricter health protocols, increased testing, and tracking. The Baguio City Mayor offered to help in the intensification of aggressive mass testing in the LISTT municipalities.

Referring to the pandemic and the necessary preventive protocols, Mayor Palangdan assured the other mayors that their residents will follow health protocols. The mayors agreed to respect the local autonomy of each LGU, with the LISTT municipalities to follow Benguet’s advisory on border restrictions. Further, Sablan Mayor Manuel Munar noted the increasing number of cases in their municipality and is considering to release its own advisory similar to Baguio City. The BLISTT mayors agreed to monitor their respective COVID-19 cases for the succeeding 10 days to determine the next best move in combatting the spread of the virus.

BLISTT head secretariat and NEDA-CAR OIC Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen noted that the mayors remain fully committed to restricting unessential travel of their residents through local guidelines. She also emphasized the need to increase testing capacity in the LISTT.

Additionally, Baguio City is waiting for the results of the tests on the UK variant of Covid-19 from the Philippine Genome Center. Mayor Magalong also offered to pass on, at purchase price, excess incoming vaccine supply to the LISTT towns.

The BLISTT Governing Council is an inter-local cooperation body that seeks to address concerns affecting the area. The body has been crucial in coordinating efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus in the BLISTT as well as in Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera. The NEDA-CAR currently acts as Secretariat to the Governing Council.

By NEDA-CAR

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