September 29, 2023

An open letter to the chief executive of Atok, Benguet

I am a resident of Atok, Benguet. I am so happy that the place where I grew up is being featured in the mainstream and social media.
The feeling that finally the world is taking notice of Atok, its weather, its people, and of course what we have been offering the country, our temperate vegetables.
I get the sense of pride when tourists come and get a glimpse of our place and say, “Ang ganda naman! Ang babait ng mga tao. Dito pala nanggagaling ang mga gulay.”
When I heard about your executive order I was flabbergasted. I understand the how critical the current situation of new coronavirus is, but I find that the way we have implemented, planned, and communicated the order was not properly done. We felt that the majority of the Atok community has not been consulted or no proper studies/researches were done to support an abrupt decision.
The barangay, including major establishments, should have been involved in reaching the decision. There should have been a meeting. Atok is a community, not just a voice of one person or just the municipal officials.
Even if we have closed Atok, are checkpoints implemented to assure that the order is followed? Baguio has suspended the Panagbenga opening parade, but has not closed the city. The entry points to Atok are still open.
We value your concern for our community, however, the major airports that receive tourists from China have not closed down. Atok is not a direct entry point for people travelling from Wuhan, China.
We are hoping your consideration of lifting the order and probably involve all stakeholders as they speak for the community. — NAME WITHHELD