MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Thursday workers living in Metro Manila’s nearby provinces will be allowed to enter the region upon presentation of valid identification cards (IDs).
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año made the clarification following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend land, domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila starting March 15 as part of community quarantine measures amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) threat.
“Lilinawin ko lang sa mga nagtatrabaho. Kasama dito sa kautusan na papayagan ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho na pumasok provided lang na meron silang ID, merong silang magpapatunay na talagang ang work nila ay dito sa Manila. Kasi supposedly sana talagang gagayahin sana natin ‘yung ibang bansa like China na total lockdown pero syempre we also have to consider ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho na mga kababayan natin lalo na ‘yung mga ordinaryong nagtatrabaho (I just want to clear this for workers’ sake. The orders states that those living outside Metro Manila but are working here will be allowed to enter as long as they present an ID proving that their work is here. Supposedly, we are to implement a total lockdown like what was done in other countries like China, but we also have to consider our workers, especially ordinary workers),” he said in a radio interview.
Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP), together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), will establish checkpoints in entry and exit points in the region for the inspections.
He, however, encouraged those who can work from home to do so also to avoid inconvenience.
Ano said the government, through the Department of Labor and Employment, will coordinate with the private companies for possible work hours adjustments to lessen those coming in and out of Metro Manila.
“Anything related to work or business, we are okay with that and those in the economic cluster, including (Trade) Secretary (Ramon) Lopez, (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez III), they said the work of people should not be hampered,” he said.
He also reiterated there is no total lockdown but just restriction of movement in Metro Manila to stop the spread of the virus.
“We are just restricting movement especially coming in and going out of Metro Manila (because we don’t want the virus) from (Metro) Manila going outside (because it would be more difficult) if it spreads in other regions. So it is best that we confine it here in Metro Manila and here we will concentrate our efforts and resources,” he said.
Ano said public land transportation to and from Metro Manila will still be available to ferry employees living outside the metropolis but the Department of Transportation will issue guidelines to ensure that “stringent social distancing” is observed.
He said transportation of goods and travels to and from the Metro will remain normal to ensure the continuity of the necessary supply of the people’s needs.
Año also said members of the media and those who need to undergo medical treatment and operation would be allowed to enter the region.
He added said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) will be meeting within the day to iron out guidelines for the implementation of the President’s order.
Meanwhile, the PNP has placed on full alert status the National Capital Region Police Office as well as Police Regional Offices (PRO) 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A (Calabarzon), 4-B (Mimaropa), and 5 (Bicol Region).
Under the full alert status, all police personnel will be on standby and ready to be deployed. All work leaves or day-offs will also be canceled. There will also be intensified checkpoint operations and patrols.
In a memorandum from the PNP’s Directorate of Operations, it was stated that the full alert status was effective at 1 a.m. Friday.
According to the PNP, other police regional offices will have the discretion to raise their alert status depending on the health situation in their respective areas.
PNP Directorate for Operations director, Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Licup, said they will also activate the Police Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) which will be headed by Brig. Gen. Alex Sintin for possible response to any situation which may arise in connection to the Covid-19.
Transactions at the PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame such as the processing for the firearms licenses, permits for security guards and from the Highway Patrol Group are suspended and will resume on March 16.
The PNP was tapped in the implementation of the “community quarantine” of the Metro Manila where travel to and from the region is limited which aims to slow down the spread of the virus particularly in the other regions.
President Duterte on Thursday night said Code Red Sublevel 2 was raised as the number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines climbed to 52.
The Philippines is now under a state of public health emergency after the Department of Health reported the first known local transmission last week.
With more than 100 countries affected by Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a “controllable” pandemic which means a worldwide spread of a new disease.
The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed over 4,600 people and infected over 120,000 worldwide. (PNA)