SECURITY officials on Wednesday said the situation in Metro Manila’s streets on the second day of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was better compared to Tuesday’s fiasco-filled first-day implementation.
“Based on our monitoring this (Wednesday) morning, there is significant reduction in the movement of people, the number of vehicles also decreased,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the situation was better “because the guidelines are clearer and we also made adjustments.”
“In the coming days, the situation will further improve, there will be lesser number of commuters,” Año said.
Banac said security personnel who manned the checkpoints made adjustments from their shortcomings on Monday and Tuesday, including the establishment of special lanes for cargo and delivery vehicles to ensure unhampered delivery of agricultural products in Metro Manila.
“There is great improvement. We observed in our quarantine control stations that most of the people there are essential workers and vehicles involved in the delivery of agricultural products and food,” he said, adding that “the public already settled down and they are now staying in their residence.”
Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said entry through checkpoints were faster because motorists brought with them the documents that they needed to show to authorities before they are allowed to pass through the checkpoints.
“The people are already aware. At first, the disseminated guidelines did not immediately sync in with the people, there were confusions. But right now, they know what to bring when they pass the checkpoints,” Gapay said.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said the implementation of the Luzon-wide quarantine is “still a work in progress.”
“We can improve our system but we agree that this is work in progress. It is not perfect so we accept all comments from the public so that we can improve our systems,” Gamboa said.
Banac assured the public that the situation in checkpoints and control points will continue to improve in the coming days as the public gets used to the ECQ.
“We are giving the assurance there will be better flow of traffic and pedestrians entering and going out of Metro Manila,” he said, referring to those who are exempted from the quarantine.
PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar asked the public to first check if they are included in the list of workers who are allowed to go out and pass through the checkpoints.
“Determine if you are supposed to be inside your houses or allowed to go out. If you know you are not allowed to leave your house, just stay home,” Eleazar said.
“To those who are authorized to go out (under the quarantine guidelines), check your health. If you are sick or not feeling well, don’t leave. If you are to go out, bring the necessary documents to improve the situation at the checkpoints and observe social distancing,” he added.
The San Juan police said it apprehended 33 men and two women for loitering in the streets.
Col. Jaime Santos, city police chief, said the group was brought to the West Crame barangay hall and were lectured on the importance of staying at home while the ECQ was in effect and the serious health effects of COVID-19.
Santos said they are closely coordinating with all barangay officials for a stricter implementation of the home quarantine regulation.
City Mayor Francis Zamora on Wednesday distributed food packages to his constituents in accordance to ECQ requirements for LGUs to provide the needs of households in their jurisdictions.
The military on Wednesday deployed scores of trucks and buses to transport medical personnel and other workers who are allowed to travel within Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Eighteen of these vehicles were from the Philippine Army, which provided transport assistance to Makati City, Paranaque City, Quezon City, Pasig City, Rizal and Cavite.
“We have marshals on board checking (the) temperature of people before they board and we see to it there is social distance. We strictly observe social distancing,” Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said.
Gapay said the initial deployment was made on Tuesday after they received reports about medical workers and other authorized personnel getting stranded at checkpoints due to the suspension of the operation of public transport facilities.
Gapay said they were able to transport 165 people on Tuesday. Yesterday, Gapay said they were able to ferry 500 people, mostly medical workers.
“The Army is extending its capabilities in order to provide support it can give specially in transporting essential personnel to their place of destination. We still encourage non-essential personnel to cooperate with the government and just stay at home,” he said.
The AFP’s general headquarters Camp Aguinaldo chipped in two buses and four trucks to bring passengers from Pasig City to Quezon City.
“This is part of the effort of the Inter-agency TF (Task Force) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease in the implementation of expanded community quarantine,” said AFP civil relations service chief and acting AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres said.
Navy public affairs officer Cmdr. Maria Christina Roxas said the Navy dispatched unspecified number of buses and M35 trucks to provide assistance to stranded people in Paranaque City, Marikina City and Cavite.
The Air Force also provided three M35 trucks and a coaster van, through the AFP’s Joint Task Force National Capital Region, to provide transport to the stranded people.
The Pasig City government hired special bus services to take health workers to their work assignments within the city perimeters.
The buses ply nine routes: City hall to Sheridan (8-12pm, 1-4pm); city hall – Santolan (B) (8-12pm, 1-4pm); Lucky Gold – PCGH (6am and 5pm); City hall – PCGH (6am and 5pm); city hall – Santolan (A) (6-8am, 5-7pm); city hall – Kalawaan (6-8am, 5-7pm); city hall – Kenneth (6-8am, 5-7pm); city hall – Rosario (6am and 5pm); and Mega Market – Shaw (19 stops).
“These routes will run as many times as possible throughout the day. We will try to operate even beyond the indicated times,” Sotto said.
Sotto said he has allowed passenger tricycles to continue operating in the city: “How else can health workers and patients go to hospitals if there are no available means for transport as not everyone has their own private cars? Will we force a dialysis patient to walk for 5 kilometers or more?”
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he has instructed road sector agencies under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to deploy buses to ferry frontline health workers, free of charge.
Tugade said an initial of 10 buses were deployed to serve health workers at two (2) identified pick-up points: the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), and at the BFCT East Metro Transport Terminal in Marikina City.
The free bus service, which is implemented in cooperation and close coordination with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and HM Transit, ferried health workers to the Quezon City General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center, the Medical City in Ortigas, East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Pasay City General Hospital, Adventist Medical Center Manila, Philippine General Hospital, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, University of Sto. Tomas Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, Providence Hospital and Capitol Medical Center.
Also, Tugade said Grab PH has committed to help DOTr transport health workers to identified hospitals, free of charge. Details on the arrangement of the service will be made available soon.
Additionally, the DOTr will set up an operations center for a motorpool for use by officials and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to provide swift and unhampered mobility of the task force while the enhanced community quarantine is enforced.
“We are racing against time to contain this deadly virus. So this initiative will truly help our frontliners do their jobs as they are the ones who are strenuously and heroically holding the line to keep our country safe. Let us do this now,” Tugade said. – With Christian Oineza