MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday warned that markets may face closure for violating social distancing measures amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Walang ganun (There is no such thing as total closure of markets). Pero ‘yung market na magva-violate ng social distancing, pwedeng ipasara (But markets violating social distancing can be shut down),” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a message to the Philippine News Agency when sought for a comment.
He also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that there will be only limited entrance and exit points in public markets to control the flow of consumers.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, said the agency has ordered the closure of retail stores amid the enhanced community quarantine.
“Pinasara ang retail stores. Ang wholesale na lang ang pwede magbenta. Yun po ngayon ang kautusan ni Secretary Año dahil hindi nga po nasusunod ang social distancing at mass gathering sa mga palengke. Ipinag-utos na po niya sa lahat ng palengke na dapat limitado ang lagusan papasok at palabas (Retail stores were ordered closed. Only wholesale stores can open. That is the order of Secretary Año because social distancing and prohibition on mass gatherings are not followed in markets. He ordered that all entry and exit points in markets should be limited),” Malaya said during a Laging Handa briefing on Monday.
Malaya said that the police and military patrols in markets could help in reminding the people to observe social distancing.
“Pinag-utos niya (Año) kasama ni SND (Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana) na ang kapulisan at ang AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ay kailangang magpatrolya sa loob at labas ng pamilihang bayan, especially sa malalaki para siguraduhing masusunod ang social distancing at prohibition sa mass gathering. Nananawagan din ang DILG na para hindi na maulit, pag hindi essential huwag na munang lumabas ng bahay (He ordered along with SND Lorenzana that the police and members of the AFP will patrol inside and outside markets, especially in big ones to ensure social distancing and prohibition of mass gathering. The DILG repetitively calls for non-essential people to stay at home),” Malaya said.
Meanwhile, PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said force multipliers of the police have been augmented in the public markets.
“The police are bringing megaphones in public markets so they can caution the people to observe social distancing,” Eleazar, also the commander of the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) said in a radio interview.
This came following viral photos of crowded public markets and the conduct of a street parade and illegal cockfighting which are blatant violations of the enhanced community quarantine.
Some local police units have already stepped up measures in enforcing social distancing.
In Cagayan province for instance, policemen regularly walk inside the public market pulling a portable sound system with pre-recorded messages and announcements about social distancing and other ECQ rules.
At the Mega Q Mart in Quezon City, uniformed personnel of the Cubao Police Station have been roaming inside the market and constantly reminding marketgoers to observe social distancing, as well as informing them of the ill effects of Covid-19. (PNA)