JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag yesterday said the first day of the one-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan was “generally peaceful,” citing public compliance to protocols.
During the “Laging Handa” press briefing, Binag said adjustments would be done to improve the enforcement of ECQ protocols.
“Naging smooth, generally peaceful and substantially compliant ang ating mga kababayan dito sa pagpapatupad ng ating ECQ (Our enforcement of ECQ was smooth, generally peaceful and people were substantially compliant),” Binag said.
Binag attributed the success to preparations made by the PNP over the weekend after President Duterte on Saturday night ordered residents of the National Capital Region and Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces not to leave their homes except for essential trips.
He said PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas met with police commanders on Sunday to discuss implementation strategies.
Binag said 1,112 checkpoints or quarantine control points were set up, which was higher than the 1,106 checkpoints that he announced on Sunday, to control the movement of people.
He added 9,356 policemen were deployed to watch the checkpoints and conduct foot and mobile patrols, among others.
Binag said the checkpoints were intended to make sure that persons who are excluded from the list of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR), which includes medical frontliners and essential workers, do not violate the President’s stay home order.
The checkpoints, he added, are also meant to ensure that people follow the uniform curfew of 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Binag said APORs will be allowed to pass through the checkpoints, even during curfew hours, but they need to show their identification cards or certificates of employment as proof that they are essential workers.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said there was no major problem reported during the first day of ECQ implementation, except for two issues that police officers faced on the first day of the one-week hard lockdown.
“Adherence to protocol on public transport capacity especially jeepneys and motorcycle barrier, separator is a challenge,” said Usana.
The second problem, he said, was that some people identified themselves as APORs or essential workers but could not present proof which he said delayed traffic flow.
Also during the Laging Handa press briefing, DILG undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the “general rule (for the public) is to stay at home, work from home and avoid mass gathering.”
Malaya said the implementation of the ECQ is “very strict” but reiterated that policemen should ensure that movement of essential cargos, especially food, from the provinces is not hampered.
Malaya said authorities should also allow food and package deliveries to houses, condominium buildings and subdivisions to discourage people from going out of their houses to buy food and other essential things.
On the conduct of house-to-house identification of COVID-19 cases, Malaya said this may be hard to do especially if authorities are not prepared to do it, meaning they do not have PPEs or personal protective equipment.
“Baka mamaya magkahawaan kung ‘yung mga ating mga umiikot ay hindi naman sila handa (Our personnel may be infected if they are not prepared),” he said.
Malaya said contact tracers will just visit the houses of close contacts of COVID-19 positives. “This is the context of the house-to-house visits. This is what our local government health office or municipal health office will be doing in the context of contact tracing,” he said.
Malaya said it will be up to local chief executives if they will require quarantine passes. “Depende po sa sitwasyon sa isang lugar (That depends on the situation in one area),” he said.
He said areas where localized community quarantines are imposed may consider requiring quarantine passes.
In Pasay City, Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano directed officials of its 201 barangays to issue quarantine passes so persons who are excluded from the APOR list can leave their homes for essential chores.
“Each household will have a quarantine pass and use the quarantine pass to enter public markets, supermarkets, drugstores and other similar establishments when purchasing essential items” she said.
Pateros Mayor Ike Ponce also announced that nine of its barangays will issue quarantine passes.
“Except for Barangay Sta. Ana, starting on March 30, residents of other nine barangays of Pateros will not be allowed to go out from their houses if they don’t have a quarantine pass, unless they are part of the Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR)”, he said.
Residents of Barangay Sta. Ana will start using their quarantine passes on March 31.
On the other hand, the city government of Taguig yesterday started distributing food packs to its residents.
The Taguig City Public Information Office said the distribution of food packs started in Barangay Tuktukan-Kawayana JP Rizal (Cemetery) and Barangay Wawa-Lusacan/C6 Road. The food packs include rice, canned goods, coffee, energy drinks, hygiene kits and an anti-COVID kit, which contains a face mask, face shield, alcohol, soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste, and shampoo that will last for one week. – With Noel Talacay