By Ben Rosario
Delays in the delivery of food supplies caused by irrational checkpoints and border controls, and even Department of Agriculture regulations will only worsen the current situation in areas under the current lockdown.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, made this observation as he called on the House leadership to intercede on behalf of food suppliers in order to address possible problem in the country’s food security situation.
Salceda also appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases to rationalize the checkpoints to prevent road congestion and protect food security.
“There’s definitely spiking demand for essential food and hygiene products. But if it takes too many extra hours for food supply to reach demand, this will compound by the day, and as we go further down the enhanced community quarantine,
we will see unnecessary food shortages across public markets and groceries,” warned Salceda.
“This will ignominiously add real hunger to the emotional hunger imposed by social distancing,” he added.
In a letter to the House leadership, the senior administration lawmaker noted that while food supply remains stable, long queues for food could trigger problems in supply stability and “increases price pressures.”
“The point of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine are two-fold — to encourage home quarantine and to protect Visayas and Mindanao from COVID-19 infection,” he said.
“In practice, localities within Luzon are adopting their own local checkpoints, so that supplies travelling from Manila would face at least four provincial checkpoints and several municipal checkpoints to Legazpi with 33 potentially and 39 toward Matnog, Sorsogon (jump point to VisMin markets) . Effectively, what we have right now is a complex combination of multiple municipal checkpoints and provincial boundary controls,” he said.
“We don’t want to choke Luzon hungry.” Salceda said.
“Let PNP, with advice from the Department of Health (DOH), decide what checkpoints are needed to slow down the transmission,” Salceda said.