By Martin Sadongdong
Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said on Wednesday that the implementation of border checkpoints has been more effective since the public is now more informed of the guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
Gapay, however, admitted that the implementation of border checkpoints especially in Metro Manila during the early days of the general quarantine had been “confusing” for some.
“Sa umpisa ‘yung dissemination ng guidelines medyo hindi pa nagsi-sink in, may confusion (In the beginning, there was confusion because of the dissemination of the guidelines, it did not immediately sink in),” Gapay said in a radio interview over dzBB.
“But right now, few days after, alam na ng mga kababayan natin kung ano hinihingi sa checkpoints at sa employers and other entities kung anong certificates at authorization ang kailangan, lalo sa industries na exempted (But right now, few days after, the public knows what are being asked in checkpoints, what certificates and authorizations are needed from the employers and other entities, especially in industries exempted [from the checkpoints]),” he added.
Under an enhanced community quarantine, strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households, transportation shall be suspended, provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented. It took effect on Tuesday midnight, March 17, and will run until April 13.
Among those exempted from the quarantine are health workers, authorized government officials, those traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, persons transiting to airports, those providing basic services and public utilities, and essential skeletal workforce.
Gapay said the Army has provided 18 military trucks to ferry stranded health workers and other individuals exempted from the travel ban.
This was after the checkpoints earned the ire of some who lamented about the difficulty of getting to work or going to hospitals for medical treatment due to lack of mobility.
Checkpoints at the borders of Metro Manila were earlier set up to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Mayroon din kaming (We have some) lessons learned, kaya kino-correct din namin ito (that’s why we are correcting them) as we go along with the implementation of this enhanced community quarantine,” Gapay said.
As of Wednesday noon, Gapay said 354 individuals have already benefited from their free service, most of whom are health workers at the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.