BAGUIO CITY — The Sagada COVID-19 Task Force denied entry to the team of famous movie and TV director Joyce Bernal, which was supposed to shoot some scenes in the famous tourist destination to serve as background for the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SoNA) of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a letter posted on the Sagada Municipality’s official Facebook page, Vice Mayor Felicito Dula responded to the request of Fern Castro, coordinator of the Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM), that while they were grateful to be chosen as the background for the SoNA, they could not allow the activity as part of their defense against the entry of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dula stated that tourism activities are not being allowed in the municipality, as well as the entry of non-residents into the area, which has so far given Sagada the advantage of not having any confirmed cases in its locale.
“In these difficult times and in lieu of the foregoing reasons, we regret to inform you that entry of the team is being disallowed,” the letter read.
Castro sent the request on 3 July addressed to Sagada Mayor James Pooten Jr. and the Municipal Disaster Risk and Management Officer (MDRRMO) with an authorization letter signed by Dennis Wilfred Pabalan, PBS-RTVM Executive Director attached to it.
The request indicated that the video materials will be used during the SoNA, which is scheduled to air on the third week of July.
However, the letter was said to be received by the Sagada government on Friday afternoon toward the close of business hours.
While a meeting of the Sagada COVID-19 task force was ongoing to discuss the request, an advance party of Bernal’s team entered the municipality on Sunday escorted by the police as the group proceeded to a local restaurant, the Sagada Cellar Door.
Before going to the said place, the group was denied accommodation by the management of the Sagada Heritage Village in accordance with the local guidelines.
Sagada Cellar Door manager Andrew Chinalpan and Bernal were called to attend the meeting, wherein the Task Force explained the sentiments of the body and their response to the request which was contained in the letter addressed to the team’s coordinator.
Bernal accepted the decision and apologized to the members of the Task Force, but appealed to be given the night to rest at the Cellar Door and to ensure that their vehicles were ready for the long trip back to Manila.
According to Pooten, Bernal’s team left Sagada yesterday morning.