Quarantine takes effect; police still on ‘warning mode’

MANILA. Authorities at the boundary of Muntinlupa City and Laguna province conduct thermal scanning and inspect identification papers as Metro Manila goes on a community quarantine on March 15, 2020. (Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)
MANILA. Authorities at the boundary of Muntinlupa City and Laguna province conduct thermal scanning and inspect identification papers as Metro Manila goes on a community quarantine on March 15, 2020. (Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)

A 30-DAY quarantine for the entire Metro Manila took effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, March 15, with the police setting up checkpoints at the entry and exit points and conducting thermal scanning on people moving in and out of the metro.

Major General Debod Sinas, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, said they were were still on a “warning mode”.

“Kasi we are still on the warning mode hindi tayo mag-i-implement ng higpit kaagad kasi nga we expect na lilinawin nga ng mga tao...When the time comes higpitan natin, maglalabas kami ng panibagong checklist or guidelines (for the conduct of checkpoint),” he said in a press conference Sunday noon.

“Mamaya magumpisa na yan dahan-dahan kasi we will not implement it drastically kasi ang guidance naman daw hindi drastic, pakiusapan at i-guide (for now). We do the maximum tolerance kung gusto mo pumasok hahayaan. Mamaya yan dahan-dahan na yan (fully) iiimplement na,” he added.

The NCRPO has identified at least 56 exit and entry points in the entire Metro Manila. Authorities at these checkpoints are supposed to not only conduct thermal scanning but also ask for identification papers.

Only those who work and have official business in the metro would be allowed to enter and leave.

The community quarantine, which was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 11, aims to limit movement in Metro Manila in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). It will last until April 14, 2020.

During the 30-day period, no land, domestic air and domestic sea travel is allowed. Classes are suspended until April 12. Mass gatherings are prohibited.

Government offices will only have skeletal workforces, but all hands on deck are required for agencies with public health and disaster management functions as well as for the police and military. The private sector is encouraged to allow employees to work from home.

Public transport systems will continue to operate, but stringent social distancing is required. Retail establishments are encouraged to temporarily shut down except for supermarkets and pharmacies.

A few hours after the community quarantine took effect, motorists from Cainta, Rizal were allowed to pass through the border and enter Pasig City without any inspection.

In Susana Heights in Muntinlupa, policemen conducted thermal scanning on each person onboard a vehicle, either private or public.

This has caused traffic flow to slow down as only three thermal scanners were being utilized.

No one was asked, however, to produce identification documents.

Policemen were also reminding motorists, especially those on public transport systems, to observe social distancing, ideally a meter away from each other.

Sinas explained that they were still conditioning the public.

He said that among the challenges they were facing is the lack of thermal scanners to be used at the checkpoints as well as the preventive equipment to ensure the safety of their personnel.

Among the checkpoints are in the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Valenzuela, particularly in the North Luzon Expressway, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Marikina and Pasig.

Sinas said they were still assessing the situation on the ground to identify more areas where checkpoints are needed and what adjustments should they make for the safety of both the policemen and the public.

“Hindi na lahat mag-thermal scan. ‘Yung iba magsisita or mag-inspect hindi mag-thermal scan. Hindi narin armado ang mga magsisita para makaiwas sa gulo baka meron jan mga mainit ang ulo,” he said.

On the implementation of curfew hours, Sinas said the local government is in charge of passing such ordinances.

The local governments of Pasig, Manila and Muntinlupa already passed an ordinance on nightly curfew which will be from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Exempted from the curfew are people coming from and going to work, those buying food or essential supplies, those responding to emergencies and people traveling for medical or health reasons.

Sinas reiterated their appeal to the public to stay at home if they don’t have anything important to do outside.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) will meet again Monday, March 16, for the assessment of the situation on the first day of the implementation of the partial lockdown. (SunStar Philippines)


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