PRRD joins military, cops at COVID-19 checkpoints

Published March 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Joseph Almer Pedrajas and PNA

President Duterte visited early Tuesday morning stranded commuters at the Valenzuela-Meycauayan boundary in MacArthur Highway to help them reach their respective destinations, ending the confusion at the start of the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited early Tuesday morning the stranded commuters at the Valenzuela-Meycauayan boundary in MacArthur Highway to help them reach their respective destinations. The MacArthur Highway is just one of the many roads which were blocked with checkpoints after Duterte imposed an enhanced community quarantine until April 12 to restrict people’s movement. (Photo courtesy of PSG)
President Rodrigo Duterte visited early Tuesday morning the stranded commuters at the Valenzuela-Meycauayan boundary in MacArthur Highway to help them reach their respective destinations. The MacArthur Highway is just one of the many roads which were blocked with checkpoints after Duterte imposed an enhanced community quarantine until April 12 to restrict people’s movement. (Photo courtesy of PSG)

The MacArthur Highway is just one of the many roads which were blocked with checkpoints after Duterte imposed the enhanced community quarantine that ends on April 12 to restrict people’s movement in a bid to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

One of the steps taken under the enhanced community quarantine is the suspension of mass transportation. This include railway system, passenger buses, jeepneys, taxis, transport network vehicle service (TNVS), FX, UV Express, Point-to-Point (P2P) buses, as well as motorcycle taxis.

Malls were also closed to help contain the spread of the COVID-19.

Reports showed that commuters were crowding at the checkpoint with few, if any, vehicles plying the streets.
Duterte arrived between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and ordered the military and police to assist commuters affected by the enhanced community quarantine in passing the barricade.

Meann Gaño, 23, a nursing aide at the UERM Memorial Medical Center l in Quezon City, was among the dozens of people stranded at the Valenzuela-Bulacan border early Tuesday midnight following the announcement made by President Duterte.

Gaño said she and other workers were barricaded at the border for about two hours starting 12:10 a.m. Some people started crying due to anxiety as they kept being denied entry into Bulacan by uniformed personnel.

“Almost pare-pareho lang sila ng sinasabi sakin, ‘Lockdown na. Wala akong alam. Bawal mag pasok ng kahit na sino. Hindi kami pwedeng mag desisyon’,” she told the Manila Bulletin, saying she was refused entry to Bulacan, where she lives, although she presented her health worker identification card.

By 1:58 a.m., she said, they were already allowed to enter but were still subjected for thermal scanning.

Gaño, who is serving as a runner for medical personnel inside sanitation rooms of patients with COVID-19, was left without choice but be absent at work because of the suspension of mass transportation. Her other colleagues decided to do the same.

“Mag meeting pa [ang management] today about service, pero sa accommodation meron na,” she added.

Trishka Mariano, 28, also on a frontline of COVID-19 at a hospital in Quezon City, had to walk for an hour starting 6 a.m. to be able to get home because there were no available jeepneys along the way.

“From night shift duty kami at dahil lockdown, we have no choice kundi maglakad mula sa workplace hanggang kung saan man may jeep. Nakarating na kami ng Cubao, pero wala talaga kami nasakyan,” said Mariano, a staff nurse.

“Hindi naman kami against sa quarantine pero ang gusto lang namin ay tamang transportasyon para sa aming Healthcare workers. Halos pilay na po ang medical staff,” she lamented.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said the government may relax the strict quarantine measures in Luzon earlier than April 12 if the coronavirus spread will ease.

President Duterte has raised this possibility after declaring that the island-wide quarantine measure will last “until April 12 or earlier,” depending on the situation

Duterte had earlier expanded the month-long quarantine in Metro Manila to cover the entire main island of Luzon to contain the outbreak of the deadly virus.

“Kasi ‘yung incubation is 14 days, eh. So itong 14 days malaman na natin kung ilan pa ang madagdag. Mag-ano lang kayo, cooperate. Tutal para ito sa ating lahat (The incubation period is 14 days. In 14 days, we will know if there will be more cases. Just cooperate since this is for the good of everyone),” the President said in his public address Monday night.

“Our response therefore, is to not leave any quarter to our enemy, by preventing close contact. The only way to ensure this effectively, at this time, is to put in effect the enhanced quarantine that I have described, to last until April 12 or earlier once we acquire further information warranting the relaxation of these measures,” he said.

Earlier in his public address Monday night, Duterte had expressed a desire to join his military and police on the frontlines in responding to the COVID-19 threat should there not be enough health workers.

“Pagka wala na kasing iba, kung takot na lahat, ang papasok ang Armed Forces pati ang pulis. Sila ‘yung magdala and sabi ko nga eh kung mamatay sila (When there’s no one else to respond to COVID-19 because everyone is scared, that’s where the Armed Forces and police come). I would also like to join them para walang masabi ang tao (so that people won’t say anything),” he said.

He promised to “go out” to make some inspections but did not elaborate.

Ako lalabas ako (I will go out). I … I … you will see me,” he said.

He also reminded all Filipinos of the collective responsibility of fighting the disease by preventing its spread such as observing social distancing.

“We all have a responsibility to fight this disease and prevent it from spreading to our fellowmen. These social distancing measures are necessary to kill the adversary,” he said.

As of Monday, there are a total of 142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 12 fatalities.

As this developed, the United States government has committed more than P139 million (about US$2.7 million) to support the Department of Health (DOH) in its response to COVID-19 in the country, the US embassy in Manila said on Tuesday.

Through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US government will collaborate with its counterparts in Manila to establish and implement internationally-recognized infectious disease threat prevention and response strategies and enhanced infection control.

US embassy spokesperson Heather Fabrikant said the new assistance will be “rapidly implemented” through the USAID’s on-the-ground partners who have been supporting the DOH to strengthen health systems.

As such, the US assistance will strengthen specimen transport systems and laboratory capacity to accurately and rapidly detect cases.

In addition, the new US government fund will help protect health workers and patients by ensuring that hygiene products, masks, waste management supplies, and other necessary commodities are available, delivered, and managed appropriately.

READ MORE: US commits P139-M support for DOH’s anti-COVID-19 programs

The Jack Ma Foundation, in partnership with the (Senator Emmanuel) Manny Pacquiao Foundation, will also provide 30,000 test kits to combat COVID-19 in the Philippines.

Pacquiao said the donation came from his “good friend, ‘the respected rags to riches’ Jack Ma, tech entrepreneur Alibaba Group founder, lazada ph owner.”

Pacquiao himself will be donating 700,000 face masks bought from abroad.

The face masks and testing kits are still being sorted out for delivery to Camp Crame.

READ MORE: Jack Ma, Manny Pacquiao Foundations to provide 50,000 test kits

Meanwhile, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay have tested negative for COVID-19.

Gatchalian said that upon hearing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s pronouncement over a DZMM radio interview, he is now ending his self-quarantine.

Binay, whom Duque also said tested negative for COVID-19, has yet to issue a statement.

READ MORE: Gatchalian, Binay test negative for COVID-19

Earlier, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was tested positive for COVID-19. (With reports from Alexandria San Juan, Roy C. Mabasa, Mario B. Casayuran, and Hannah L. Torregoza)

READ MORE: Sen. Zubiri tests positive for COVID-19

 
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