MANILA – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Tuesday assured that “birth pains” being encountered at checkpoints will soon be fixed as the government continues to improve the full implementation of the “enhanced” community quarantine over Luzon, including Metro Manila.
Lopez made this remark following reports that some transiting cargoes carrying food products were held off at checkpoints despite government guidelines that movement of cargoes should be unhampered.
He said the government is addressing these problems to ensure stable prices and supply of the basic goods despite placing the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine to boost efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Ngayong umaga, maraming text sa amin na merong nahihirapan tumawid sa checkpoint. Yung iba pinagbabawal. Tawagin na natin birth pains ito na hindi pa siguro nagkalinawan. Pero yun po ay maayos in due time (Now, there are many texting us that they’re having difficulty crossing the checkpoint. Some are being prohibited. Let’s call them birth pains because these guidelines remain unclear. But these will be fixed in due time),” he said in a televised Laging Handa public briefing.
Interior Assistant Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya apologized and sought for more patience in managing these “first day kinks” including reports that even health workers were barred from passing through checkpoints.
“Health workers ang nangunguna sa exemption (among the first to be exempted),” he said.
He also assured that local governments are working on providing health workers with shuttle services to and from their respective workplaces amid the suspension of public transport in Luzon.
Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the suspension of all mass transport facilities would include public utility buses, jeeps, taxis, transport network vehicle services, among others.
Land, air, and sea travel will also be restricted except travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the Covid-19, and other humanitarian assistance.
Agriculture, manufacturing, and services like food preparation and deliveries and distribution of these basic necessities will still be allowed under the enhanced community quarantine.
Banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water, and telecommunication supplies and facilities will remain open.
Malls will be closed, but restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out services.
There are currently 187 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country with 12 fatalities. (PNA)