BoC to ‘clarify’ Metro curfew restrictions

THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) would seek ‘clarification’ from the Inter-Agency Task Force’ (IATF) formed to combat the spread of the ‘COVID-19’ virus and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) over the extent of the restrictions imposed on the movement of goods and people with the imposition of a metro-wide curfew in the region.

Atty. Vincent ‘Jett’ Maronilla, in a talk with this reporter yesterday, said they would seek the clarification on behalf of the truckers and other cargo handlers whose operations are on a 24-hour basis and considered vital in the country’s business and economic supply chain.

The MMDA said the curfew, “unanimously approved” by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), would start at 8 p.m. today (Sunday) and would last until 5 a.m. each day until April 14, the end of the NCR-wide ‘quarantine period’ announced by the government.

“While the guidelines released by the MMC mentioned that those performing ‘essential functions,’ are exempted from the curfew, our definition of it may run contrary to those of others (agencies) tasked to implement the curfew,” Maronilla pointed out.

“For example, we can view cargo haulers bringing out (of customs) imported goods such as food stuffs and raw materials for our manufacturers as ‘essential functions’ for the benefit of our economy. But this view may not be the same with those of our law enforcers, among others,” he added.

National Capital Region police chief, P/MGen. Debold Sinas, had already warned that those ‘defying’ the curfew would be arrested by the police.

Maronilla said the need for the unhampered delivery of imported goods to their destinations, especially outside of Metro Manila, is important. He noted that despite the business disruptions caused by the COVID-19, the volume of arriving shipments in the country “is now actually starting to increase, indicating increased economic activity.”

“We also don’t want a repeat of port congestion that has proven costly to everyone simply because the issue of who are exempted from the curfew has not been clarified,” he said.