By Aaron Recuenco
The Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) has crafted an simplified guide on people who are exempted from home quarantine amid the government’s aggressive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
JTF CV Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said the guide will be cascaded down to the policemen manning the checkpoints and border controls in order to prevent confusion as to who would be allowed to travel and move around Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.
“The JTF CV Shield was created to oversee the implementation of the guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine. We immediately crafted this simplified guide due to observations that there appears to be confusion for both those tasked to implement the guidelines on the ground and the people themselves,” Eleazar told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.
The JTF CV Shield is the implementing arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19. It is composed of ranking officials from the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Since the start of the quarantine on March 15 in Metro Manila and its expansion to include the entirety of Luzon on Monday, confusion and emotional confrontation have been observed at the checkpoint areas between the government authorities and the public.
At least two cases of confrontation have been recorded in the National Capital Region—one near the Valenzuela City-Bulacan boundary where a man cursed and almost hit a cop, and the latest in San Juan City on Tuesday morning, when a dump truck driver almost ran over two policemen with whom he figured in a heated argument over the travel ban.
“This guide will be used in the information dissemination which we requested the police commanders, especially in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, to do in their respective areas of jurisdiction in coordination with the barangay captains,” Eleazar said.
The guideline, entitled Authorized Persons Outside Residence, categorized those exempted into five groups, namely; Basic Services, Daily Essentials, Essential Goods, Utilities, and Other Authorized Persons.
The Basic Services category was further sub-divided into four category groups: Medical Services, Funeral Services, Emergency Responders, and Security Services.
Under Medical Services, those exempted from home quarantine are officials and staff of the Department of Health, all health and services personnel stationed at local government units’ health facilities, all staff and personnel of the Philippine Red Cross especially those using vehicles, core staff from the World Health Organization and Regional Offices, doctors and their drivers, hospital staff and employees including janitorial services, medical professional and other employees, and private care givers.
Under Emergency Responder sub-group are personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT), and officials of the local government units.
Those providing Security Services include personnel of the PNP, Coast Guard, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Philippine Ports Authority, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and other law enforcement agencies; company security officials and security guards, and force multipliers at the barangay level which include barangay officials and barangay tanods.
Under Funeral Services are the employees of funeral service companies and the immediate family of the deceased.
Daily Essentials and Essential Goods
Under this category are those working in banks that include the crew of armored vehicles, money transfer services, groceries and convenience stores, public markets, pharmacies and drugstores, food chains and restaurants.
Under the Essential Goods category are those working as delivery personnel of cargoes which include the driver and maximum of two helpers, and employees working at food and medical manufacturing establishments.
Under Utilities are key officials and employees of telecommunication companies and employees of cable and internet service providers; key officials and employees of water companies, and employees of water delivery and refilling stations crew; employees working in energy companies like employees of power plants doing maintenance works, petroleum tanker drivers, gasoline attendants, and coal delivery drivers.
Other Authorized Persons
Private individuals are also allowed, provided that they will go out to procure the basic services for their family. Only one person per household is allowed.
Skeletal forces of the Executive Branch and capital markets like Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Security Exchange Commission are also allowed.
Senators and congressmen and their chiefs of staff are also allowed to go out and move around. Cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and bureau directors will also be allowed.
Also exempted are top officials of the judiciary down to judges and prosecutors, governors, journalists, business processing outsourcing employees, employees of critical transport facilities, and outbound and inbound international passengers and drivers.