Long queues of public and private vehicles at quarantine control checkpoints in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its adjacent provinces were observed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday, August 1, the first day of the implementation of stricter border control measures ahead of a two-week enhanced commmunity quarantine (ECQ) in the area.
Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP Chief, reminded the public that there are only two categories of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs) who will be allowed to enter and exit NCR — the essential workers or “workforce APORs” and the “consumer APORs.”
Workforce APORs are individuals whose companies, businesses, or industries they work in are allowed to operate under the ECQ while the consumer APORs are the designated persons in every family who are allowed to go out to avail of the services of the businesses.
“Ang workforce APORs at ang consumer APORs ay pinapayagan na lumabas at pumasok sa Kalakhang Maynila bilang parte ng pagbalanse ng ekonomiya ng ating bansa (The workforce AORs and consumer APORs are allowed to enter and exit Metro Manila as part of the efforts to balance the economy of the country,” Eleazar said.
In a border control checkpoint at the boundary of Caloocan City and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, the traffic build-up reached almost one kilometer early in the morning as policemen checked the identities of the travelers to ensure that they were APORs, according to Police Lt. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID-Shield.
Even if the ECQ period in NCR will start on August 6, Dickson said they were already advising non-APORs to go home as early as now since they were trying to contain the movement of people to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Nagkaroon po ng matinding traffic at ito ay inaasahan na natin dahil nagkaroon tayo ng stricter measure of enforcement. Ang mga gusto pang lumabas ng Metro Manila, unless APOR sila ay iwasan na po sana nila lumabas ng mga tahanan (There was heavy traffic and we already expected this because there was stricter measure of enforcement. Those who want to go out of Metro Manila, please refrain from leaving your houses unless you are APORs),” said Dickson, who inspected the Caloocan-Bulacan border checkpoint, in a radio interview over dzBB.
According to Dickson, policemen manning the checkpoints will only allow APORs to pass through if they present their Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) identification cards issued by regulatory agencies, valid IDs, or pertinent documents issued by establishments that are allowed to operate under the current quarantine status.
For individuals who are living outside but working in NCR or vice-versa, Dickson said they only have to present their IDs to prove they are essential workers or they are on an essential travel to be allowed entry and exit into the capital region. Individuals who have appointment for vaccination can also travel within the NCR, he added.
“Initially, iche-check natin kung ang sakay ay APOR o essential woker na nagtratrabaho sa gabi. Kung kailangan ng sundo talaga, ang reminder muna namin siguro kailangan ang maintenance ng social distancing para hindi sila makapanghawa (Initially, we are checking if the motorists are APORs or essential workers especially those working at night. If they need service, we rminedd them to maintain social distancing so they won’t be able to trasmit the virus),” Dickson said.
“Hindi lang din po naman essential workers ang pwedeng lumabas, pwede po magpabakuna kasi ang intention ng gobyerno natin ay makapagbakuna ng four million dito sa Metro Manila. Ang four million ay hindi lang basta basta numero iyan. Sila din ay mako-consider na authorized person na lumabas during ECQ (Aside from essential workers, we are also allowing people who will be vaccinated to go out because the intention of the government is to inoculate four million in Metro Manila. Four million is not a small number. They will be considered as authorized persons allowed to go out during ECQ),” he added.
At present, Dickson said they were focusing on travelers going out of Metro Manila to ensure that they are not virus carriers who might spread the disease to other areas.
“It is expected na ang epicenter ng infection ay nandito sa NCR at iniiwasan natin na ang mga lalabas sa Metro Manila ay makapanghawa pa sa ibang probinsya (It is expected that the picenter of the infection is here in NCR and we are avoiding a situation that those exiting Metro Manila will infect other persons in the provinces),” the police commander noted.
Further, Eleazar reminded the policemen to ensure the free passage of cargo vans or trucks carrying essential goods to and from Metro Manila.
On Saturday night, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año ordered the JTF COVID-Shield to start the enforcement of stricter border control in NCR as well as adjacent provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal starting midnight of August 1.
The NCR will be under ECQ, the strictest form of community quarantine, from August 6 to August 20 as part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus amid the rising number of cases of the more transmissible Delta variant.