JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said he has ordered a much stricter enforcement of health protocols specifically wearing of face masks and social distancing following reports of abuses of the quarantine exemption for certain citizens.
The official said that 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 controlled amid reports of abuses by some individuals who have been issued exemption in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal which will remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until August 18.
Eleazar said that based on the observation and reports from policemen manning Quarantine Control Points, 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), 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 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. their presence outside of their communities and their travels must be work-related.
He said that the APORs were either issued 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 noted 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.