INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday ordered local government officials to lift window hours they have imposed for wet market and supermarket operations amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
Año said the decree imposing specific hours when residents can to the markets to buy food and other essential supplies defeats the social distancing regulation set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as the most effective preventive strategy against COVID-19.
“Regarding supermarkets, wet markets, I’m advising all LGUs (local government units) to lift what is called window hours for marketing),” Año told a press conference in Malacanang.
Año told local government executives the imposition of window hours leads to the inflow of more people to supermarkets and wet markets during the allowed hours, exposing them to greater risk of being contaminated.
“Kapag naglagay ka ng window hours, kinukumpol-kumpol mo lang ‘yung mga tao lalo (If you impose window hours, the more you are allowing the influx of people). So it should be 12 hours (open window) and observe strictly the social distancing,” Año said.
Año said the issuance of quarantine passes by the LGUs is a “good control measure” to contain the spread of COVID-19.
However, Año said these quarantine passes should be distributed house-to-house by the LGUs “so that there will no reason for the people to get out.”
“But with or without the quarantine pass, the people should be allowed to buy food so long as they are the representative of their families to get food,” Año said.
NO PNP, NO CHECKPOINTS
The PNP has issued a memorandum ordering all regional police directors to ensure that all checkpoints or quarantine control points (QCPs) set up in Luzon are supervised by policemen. The police received reports that some QCPs in barangays are manned only by barangay officials.
In memorandum dated March 23, PNP director for operations Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Licup said all QCPs at the barangay level should be coordinated “and (should) be supervised by the unit commanders/COPs (chiefs of police).”
“In this regard, all unit commanders/COPs shall ensure that all established QCPs at the municipal and barangay level are properly supervised. Likewise, ensure that it operates in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the national government,” Licup also said in the memorandum.
Reports and complaints have flooded the PNP and DILG about some local officials blocking the passage of cargo delivery trucks in their areas, citing the lockdown imposed in Luzon.
Under the guidelines issued by the inter-agency task force, the passage of vehicles involved in the delivery of food and other essential products should be unhampered.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete, a member of the IATF, said: “All barangay checkpoints must now be under the supervision (of the police). No PNP, no barangay checkpoints.”
Perete said the PNP will orient barangay officials on guidelines for the QCPs.
It also directed chiefs of police to submit the report of their compliance with the directive within the day to the PNP Directorate for Operations. -30-
A Marine battalion, bound for the Abu Sayyaf-infested Sulu, had been diverted to beef up checkpoints established in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Navy public affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. Maria Christina Roxas on Wednesday said the 12th Marine Battalion had been deployed to help man checkpoints in Marikina City, Muntinlupa City and in the provinces of Rizal, Cavite and Laguna.
Roxas said the battalion, composed of around 500 men, was due to be deployed to Sulu at the end of the month after recently completing a periodic re-training in Metro Manila. The battalion is under the command of Lt. Col. Henry Espinosa.
“The deployment of the sailors and Marines is consistent with the flag officer in command’s (Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bardo) directive to proactively assist the national government and other non-government organizations in their resolve to contain this pandemic,” Roxas said. – With Ashzel Hachero