JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday batted anew for a much stricter enforcement of quarantine rules in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal which have been reverted to General Community Quarantine status.
According to the official, the strict enforcement of quarantine rules was found to be effective in containing the spread of the coronavirus, citing the case in Cebu City where the high infection rate was addressed when stricter rules were enforced with the deployment of additional policemen and soldiers who compelled local residents to behave.
However, he said that due to the limited number of police and military personnel to cover the entire country, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces need all the help they can get from barangay officials whom he said must step up their efforts by mobilizing their respective barangay tanod for community-level enforcement of minimum health standard protocols such as wearing of face masks, observing physical distancing and prohibition of mass gathering.
“This is the part where the Local Government Units (LGUs) down to the barangay level should come up with their respective ordinances relating to the strict implementation of quarantine rules that include curfew and the mandatory compliance with the minimum health safety standard protocols in order for their constituents to be forced to comply and likewise synchronize with the efforts of the national government to contain the spread of this deadly virus,” said Eleazar.
“While your policemen and soldiers are doing their best to enforce the quarantine rules at the risk of being infected, we cannot rely solely on the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines because of the limited manpower and resources. The lack of manpower and resources to cover the entire country could be well filled up by the more than 42,000 barangays in the country which have their own respective security forces through the barangay tanod,” he added.
Eleazar said that the active participation and cooperation by the barangay officials and the LGUs will play a key role in curtailing the unnecessary movement of people and blatant violations of quarantine rules that regularly happen on the streets of the barangays.
He said that in Metro Manila, Highly-Urbanized Cities and other densely-populated areas in the country, concerned barangay officials would have a better way of crafting strategies and enforcement of quarantine rules since they are familiar with the behavior of the residents and are always aware of where the violations regularly occur.
Eleazar stressed the need for the government to retain the strict implementation of the quarantine rules especially that more people would be allowed to go out as more industries are allowed to operate under the GCQ and the Modified GCQ.
“Our personnel on the ground have been considerate for more than 150 days now since March 17. By this time, our kababayan should have already adjusted to the new norms on public health so they must follow the rules now,” he explained.
“Violators should no longer be warned and excuses should no longer be entertained because public health is at stake. If they violate the rules, then they should be prepared for the consequences of their actions whatever the quarantine status is,” he stressed.
Quarantine passes back
Caloocan City is again requiring the use of a quarantine pass for essential travel from home, but it is up to other Metro Manila cities to revive the requirement.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that quarantine passes are neede in localized lockdowns.
“Yung mga lugar na under localized or granular lockdowns kinakailangan ng quarantine passes,” Roque said in a televised announcement.
“Bahala na po ang LGUs kung gusto nila mag-require ng quarantine passes sa lahat ng kanilang mga mamamayan,” he added.
(We leave it to the LGUs to decide on whether they would require quarantine passes for their residents.)
Included in the strict GCQ rules is the limit to the number of people in gatherings. Gatherings may have no more than 10 people.
Back in GCQ is Metro Manila, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal after a period of stricter modified enhanced community quarantine.
Other areas under GCQ until the end of the month are Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon province, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and the towns of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu.
The rest of the Philippines is under modified general community quarantine.
Roque also reminded the public to wear face shields on top of face masks in commercial places, indoor workplaces, and public transport, he said.
Motorcycle back-riding will also be allowed in areas under GCQ.
However, motorcycle barriers are no longer required for riders living under the same roof.
The contraptions should only be used by riders living in different homes, and the passenger should be an authorized person outside residence, Roque said.
“Motorcycle must be privately owned and not for hire and both riders should have face masks and full-face helmets that must be worn at all times while back riding,” he added.
From yesterday until August 31 an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be imposed in Metro Manila with the cities of Manila, Muntinlupa, and Pasig initially allowed to enforce their own curfew hours.
Working individuals and authorized persons outside residence, however, are not covered by the curfew.