The provincial board has endorsed to the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 a proposal to ease the current enhanced quarantine restrictions in the province into a “modified” community quarantine.

The Board’s recommendation was in support of a recommendation in a study conducted by a team of experts from the University of the Philippines which identified several provinces, including Palawan, where quarantine restrictions may be relaxed conditionally.

Board member Ryan Maminta said that while the province will abide by the decision and policy direction set by the national government, it intends to lobby for a downgrading of the restrictions for Palawan.

“Whatever the decision and policy direction from the national government, we shall abide. In that respect, we shall as early as now apprise, and if possible, lobby our position to the national IATF,” Maminta said.

The UP study recommended that the national government may consider relaxing the quarantine rules in provinces or regions outside the NCR based on a set of parameters including the capacity of a province for mass testing, its contact tracing capability, hospital, and medical care capacity and existing local trend on COVID-19 case monitoring.

“These provinces may resume economic activity provided that they will continue to restrict the flow of people in and out of its jurisdiction and provisions (described above) are met,” the study stated.

Maminta urged the provincial government to “position our province towards the MCQ (modified community quarantine)” given the UP recommendations.

“For Palawan, it is very important that we position our province towards the MCQ, based on the data and some studies conducted by the UP COVID-19 pandemic response team, we fall under the less than 80 percent probability of outbreak,” Maminta said.

“We urge the provincial IATF, as a matter of protocol, to carefully study and consider the positioning of the province of Palawan from ECQ to MCQ in the proximate possible time before we reached April 30. Finally, we likewise urge the IATF to coordinate with the municipal governments and City of Puerto Princesa for the purpose of consultative and synchronize decision-making,” Maminta said.

In a separate interview, provincial information officer Winston Arzaga said that the final decision will depend on the national government.

He said Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez is also depending at what the national government will declare.

“Ang ayaw lang natin mangyari ay ‘yong bubuksan lahat ng flights. Kapag ganoon ay back to zero tayo. Sayang lahat ng efforts ng lahat,” Arzaga said.