Tightened local gov’t policies hampering flow of essential goods, police warn

Vehicles pass through a special cargo lane at the North Luzon Expressway on March 19, days after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented. <i>Photo: Mark Demayo / ABS-CBN News</i>
Vehicles pass through a special cargo lane at the North Luzon Expressway on March 19, days after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented. Photo: Mark Demayo / ABS-CBN News

The Philippine National Police (PNP) today warned that stricter policies by some local governments are impeding the flow of essential goods and cargo that need to be distributed all over Luzon during the monthlong lockdown.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in an interview that Task Force COVID-19 Shield — which he oversees — was created to implement the guidelines given by the Health Department’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. He noted that while the agency has released guidelines on the national level, local government units (LGUs) have imposed differing policies which have resulted in trucks carrying food being stopped at border checkpoints.

“There are LGUs who, in their desire to protect their areas of responsibility, are implementing policies that are sometimes too strict,” Eleazar told radio station DZMM in Filipino.

“It’s important that the cargo reaches the very vast corners [of the region] because if it doesn’t, then we will have a food shortage. Sometimes they [cargo shipments] are being stopped. Some villages have created their own policies, these are problems that we are trying to resolve daily.”

Read: Moto-taxi app Angkas launches food delivery service, with fees going entirely to driver

The Trade Department has previously assured the public that cargo will move freely all over Luzon, with Undersecretary Ruth Castelo telling DZMM on Saturday that goods “should not be held or delayed, except if they are subjected to the usual precautionary measures.”

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, released a memo to the media today saying that all village checkpoints must be under police supervision, The Philippine Star reports.

“All QCPs [Quarantine Control Points] at the village level shall be coordinated with the Municipal Joint Task Group and to be supervised by the Unit Commanders,” from the PNP, the memorandum read. It added that unit commanders “shall ensure that all established QCPs at the municipal and barangay [village] level are properly supervised. Likewise, ensure that it operates in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the national government.”

The PNP’s Eleazar, meanwhile, called on local governments to redirect the energy spent on strict cargo policies towards keeping their constituents quarantined as authorities try to contain the outbreak, which has so far infected 636 people, 38 of whom have died, and 26 of whom have since recovered.


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