By ARGYLL B. GEDUCOS and GENALYN D. KABILING
President Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” until April 12, 2020 following the rapid surge of coronavirus cases in the country.
The President has expanded the strict quarantine measure outside Metro Manila in a bid to limit the movement of the people and avert the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The President assured the public that Luzon is not under martial law while the entire mainland is under enhanced community quarantine.
“Upon study of worldwide trends, I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary. I am placing the entire mainland of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020, coinciding with the entire end of the Holy Week,” Duterte said in his public address Monday night.
According to the President, the movement of the public will be limited under the enhanced community quarantine but they will still be allowed to go out if they will buy food, medicine, or other basic necessities.
“A strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households; movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated, and there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures,” the memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea read.
Under the quarantine, classes and all school activities in all levels shall continue to be suspended until April 14, 2020, and will resume the following day.
Mass gatherings will continue to be prohibited.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is directed to institute measures to expedite the distribution of food assistance to the most affected residents of the entire Luzon.
Mass public transport facilities including trains, buses, and jeepneys, are suspended. Land, air and sea travel are likewise restricted.
Outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon shall be allowed to travel for a period within 72 hours from the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine.
The travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, shall be allowed.
Inbound international passengers, in transit upon effectivity of the quarantine, shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions.
All inbound Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine Government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions.
The movement of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to formulate guidelines for the accompanying crew or personnel of transiting cargoes.
A work from home arrangement shall be implemented in the Executive branch, except the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services, which shall ensure a skeletal workforce.
Only those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production shall remain open. These include public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water, and telecommunications supplies and facilities.
“In all such open establishments, their respective managements shall ensure the adoption of a strict skeletal workforce to support operations, as well as all strict social distancing measures;” it read.
Business Process Outsourcing establishments and export-oriented industries shall remain operational, subject to the condition that strict social distancing measures are observed; their respective personnel are provided, appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements by March 18, 2020, and that a skeletal workforce shall be implemented.
Media personnel, meanwhile, are allowed to travel within the quarantine area after securing an identification card from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) within 72 hours from the issuance of the memorandum.
“Transit to and from the above establishments anywhere within the quarantined area shall be allowed.
Security personnel of the same establishments shall likewise be allowed to travel,” the memorandum read.
The Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and of Labor and Employment (DOLE), are tasked to formulate programs, projects, and measures for the social amelioration of affected workers and residents of the quarantined area. These measures may include, but shall not be limited to, moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated 13th-month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.
No martial law
President Duterte said the presence of the military and the police does not mean the entire island of Luzon is under martial law because the police forces are only around to assure that quarantine measures are enforced.
“This is not martial law. Huwag kayong matakot. Walang magdi-display ng baril except the Armed Forces (Do not be afraid. No one will be displaying their guns there, except for the Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said.
“Martial law is yung rebellion, may away, at public safety requires it. Kung may invasion ganoon rin. But wala dito. Walang invasion, walang rebellion. So hindi ito kailangan natin (Martial law is when there is a rebellion, a war, an invasion, or when public safety requires it. We don’t have those now so we don’t need martial law),” he added.
Based on the memorandum, failure to abide by the guidelines and measures shall be subjected to appropriate action, both criminal and administrative, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
“For this purpose, the Department of Justice is directed to initiate appropriate charges, as may be warranted,” the memorandum stated.
In his message, President Duterte warned barangay captains that implementing the new guidelines was a mandatory duty.
“This is a mandatory duty. It does not have to have a law because the proclamation itself suggests that there is really a need for you to work with government,” he said.
“’Pag ang barangay captain niyo tatamad-tamad, siya ang puntahan ko (If your barangay captains are lazy and do not want to move, I will personally go to them),” he added, warning them that not implementing the guidelines is a dereliction of duty.