Welcome assurances on checkpoints, curfew

Published March 16, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

E CARTOON MAR 17, 2020
People old enough to remember that day in September, 1972, when martial law was announced by the Marcos administration may have had some fears about the lockdown in Metro Manila upon seeing the police and troop checkpoints around the area last Sunday.

Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra, however, has reiterated President Duterte’s assurance when he first announced the 30-day lockdown that this is not martial law, this is not war. This is simply a move to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) which, as of Sunday, had already infected 111 people in the country and killed ten.

The men of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been deployed for one purpose only, he said – to stop people from coming into and out of Metro Manila, in a move the government hopes will help stop the virus. There will be no arrests unless unruly people refuse to follow orders.

We hope, however, that the police and soldiers manning the checkpoints will be able to make allowances for truly meritorious reasons, such as an emergency in the family, or a life-and-death situation. The same considerations must be made when the curfew is enforced as each city or town in Metro Manila approves an ordinance for such a curfew.

The goal of all these restrictions, it must not be forgotten, is to stop the further spread of the coronavirus. Probably the most importamt restriction is that calling for “social distancing”— no touching, maintaining space of one meter from the next person. That is now being done in the usual places like churches and malls, but it is next to impossible in bus and rail stations and coaches.

We are only beginning this period of checkpoints, quarantine, distancing, and personal hand-washing and alcohol wiping. We have yet a month to go, a month to make adjustments in work schedules and personal movements. We have come to this point because our COVID-19 cases, after weeks of appearing to have subsided, are suddenly rising in the most unexpected places.
We must be thankful that the virus has not been as virulent here as in Italy which had 17,600 cases and 1,266 deaths as of Sunday. Even the United States, known for its high standards of public health, now has more than 2,000 cases with 47 deaths. The World Health Organization reported over 143,000 cases worldwide as of Sunday, with over 5,400 deaths.

The Philippines had 111 cases, with eight deaths by Sunday. The figures are likely to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world after diminishing in China. We welcome the assurances of Secretary Guevarra on the Metro Manila landlock and we hope that this and other measures initiated by our government last Sunday will help keep down the casualty figures. A great deal of their success will depend on the cooperation shown by everyone of us.