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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Shift from Tourism to Agri-business needed in post-COVID-19 era

“COVID-19 taught everyone to go back to the basics,” Cebu’s Governor Garcia says

MANILA – While the provincial government looks forward to acquiring more test kits to test a certain percentage of the population to serve as basis to slowly reopen the economy, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said businessmen may have to reconfigure their plans to build more hotels and condominiums and focus on agri-business instead.

Speaking at an online forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP)early Saturday afternoon, Governor Garcia said she talked with the presidents of the different chambers of commerce in the province yesterday and suggested their reconsider their plans in order to respond to the needs of the province and the people after COVID-19 pandemic.

“I told them their members are awash with cash that banks even begun offering low-interest loans before COVID-19 and I challenged them to go back to the province, to the towns and find arable lands because we have to be self-sufficient in food,” she said.

She added she does not see the recovery of the Tourism industry in the next couple of years.

Governor Garcia said while they have 10 to 12 feed mills in the province, millers have to buy corn from other provinces or import them because of Cebu’s insufficient production.

“We have to refocus our energies from building hotels and condos and make Cebu province self-sufficient in food,” she said.

The provincial governor said if there’s one thing COVID-19 taught everyone, it is going back to basics.

Earlier during the FOCAP event, Governor Garcia said Cebu City already has 413 positive COVID-19 cases, with Lapu-Lapu City had 28, Mandaue City with 11 while Cebu Province had three positive cases, two of who recovered while the other died.

“We have strict border controls manned by the elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines,” she said. She explained they only allow personnel working in essential services and government agencies within the boundaries of the province to Mandaue and Consolacion town, Lapu-lapu city and the Cebu City and Balamban town.

The provincial governor said they have already downloaded sufficient funds to the 44 towns and seven cities under her jurisdiction. The funds have been used to buy food commodities with prices according to the Department of Trade and Industry and local price monitoring agencies.

“No mayor is allowed to buy goods at higher prices than what has been approved by the Department of Trade and Industry,” she added. They have already established their Tindahan sa Kapitolyo which sells prime commodities with 10% discount from prevailing market prices. She explained the Tindahan, which caters to the poorest of the poor, has been replicated in several towns in the province.

Speaking of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, the governor said they have about 1,400 inmates and that has been kept COVID-19 free. She explained they have subjected inmates with flu-like symptoms to the routine swabbing and the specimens have been sent to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.

“No visitors have been allowed since March 15 and our jail guards have been required to stay at their quarters at the Center. Guards who come from barangays where COVID-19 positive cases have been found are no longer allowed to report for work,” she added. A portion of the building has been refurbished to function as isolation wards with about 25 beds in separate cubicles.

She added they are awaiting the laboratory results from examinations conducted by the VSMMC. Governor Garcia said she is satisfied with the support and collaboration of government agencies including the Departments of Health, Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government and Agriculture. (Melo M. Acuña)

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia speaking to FOCAP members. (Screen Grab from FOCAP Forum)

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