JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said he has ordered a much strict enforcement of health protocols specifically wearing of face masks and social distancing in the country following reports of abuses of the quarantine exemption being given to the public by the government.
The official said in coordination with Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, he has ordered policemen belonging to the joint task force to see to it that the movement of both authorized and unauthorized persons outside of residence would be contained amid reports on abuses by some individuals who have been issued exemption in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal which remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until August 18.
Eleazar said based on the observation and reports from policemen manning Quarantine Control Points in the country, there are community quarantine-exempted people who are using the exemption, including the identification cards issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), as an excuse to deliberately violate the strict quarantine rule on non-essential travels.
The IATF-MEID gave community quarantine exemption to groups or workers whose nature of their job is classified as a necessity to provide the basic needs and services of the people who are required to stay at home as part of the fight against the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
Those given exemptions are listed as Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR). But the IATF stated that to be listed as APOR, a person must be 1. working as a front-liner in the fight against COVID-19, and working for industries permitted by the government to operate; and, 2. That their presence outside of their communities and their travels must be work-related.
He said the APORs were either issued with identification cards by the IATF for exemption from community quarantine, or are allowed to just present their company identification cards or other documents as proof of employment.
“The main and only reason behind the exemption from community quarantine is for them to go to their places of work because the nature of their jobs is essential to provide the basic goods and services to our people under community quarantine, and for them to go back to their homes,” explained Lt. Gen. Eleazar.
“However, we have been receiving reports from our personnel on the ground that there are some abuses committed since those given exemption is using it to travel anywhere they want and anytime they want which are basically violations of the existing quarantine rules,” he said.
Eleazar disclosed that the abuses of community quarantine exemption sometimes causes verbal confrontations at the QCPs.
“It is clear that community quarantine exemption is given only for work-related purposes. The concept is the same with the issuance of quarantine passes which is issued by the Local Government Units for only one member of the family to go out of their homes only to buy essential goods,” the official said.
“Therefore, they should not use this exemption to engage in travels that are not connected to their job because this is really unfair to the majority of our kababayan who are strictly abiding the government’s prohibition not to engage in non-essential travels in this time of pandemic,” he added.
In coordination with Gen. Gamboa, the official said they have instructed the local police commanders to task their personnel supervising and manning the QCPs to scrutinize the identification cards and other documents being presented to them by the essential workers, particularly on the home address and place of work, in order to determine whether or not the travel is essential.
Based on the latest data of the Department of Health, the Philippines has a total of 126,885 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,209 deaths and 67,117 recoveries.
Medical experts have been saying one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to contain the movement of the people as this effectively prevents the transmission of the virus.