THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has discouraged the public from traveling and going back to their hometowns to visit their families even if the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted in their areas.
Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield commander and Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said an exodus of people to their hometowns is expected upon the easing or lifting of restrictions on May 16.
Among those expected to travel are people who have been stranded in their workplaces, rented houses and boarding houses.
Eleazar said travel will remain limited as the threat of coronavirus infection is still high and some of those who would go home might unknowingly bring the virus with them.
“There is already a guideline issued regarding our Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) so we encourage our kababayan to be aware and follow it because they may interpret the lifting of the ECQ as a go-signal for them to go back to their hometowns. We will not allow that,” he said.
Eleazar said those who want to go back to their hometowns must first secure a medical certificate from the health offices of the local government units where they were stranded that they are cleared of the coronavirus and that they underwent the necessary quarantine procedures.
After securing the certification, local officials of their hometowns must also provide a certification that they are accepting their returning constituents.
He said these two documents will be processed by the concerned police commanders for the issuance of travel authority which will include the date of travel, point of origin and destination, and name of driver and vehicles that will be used in the transport.
Eleazar said that if the areas involved are within the same province, the certification may be issued by the provincial commander; if the areas involve two provinces within a region, the certification could be secured from the police regional director; and, if the areas involve two regions, the certification will come from the director of the PNP Directorate for Operations.
He said PNP Chief Archie Gamboa has ordered police commanders to make sure that all the processing of the certification and other documents needed for the travel of the LSIs are expedited.
“Our Chief PNP General Gamboa fully understands the situation of our kababayan who were stranded because of the ECQ implementation. As a family man himself, he knows how it feels to be away from your family this long so he made sure that our commanders would immediately attend to these request to travel but subject to strict adherence to the protocols,” said Eleazar.
For those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus but were able to recover, they should test negative at least twice and should have undergone the necessary quarantine before they are allowed to go back to their hometowns.
Eleazar said the JTV Covid shield is implementing strict measures for the returning LSIs because in some cases, the virus carriers are asymptomatic and are unknowingly spreading the coronavirus they are carrying.
“If they insist on returning without following the protocol that would be issued on this, then this will defeat the purpose of the quarantine measures that the government has implemented since March 17. All the sacrifices that we made will be futile,” he said.
The PNP also urged the local government units to come up with a guideline that is in line with the policies set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in dealing with those returning constituents who were trapped in other areas, especially in places where cases of coronavirus are high.
The following will be under general community quarantine starting May 16 until May 31: Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon except Laguna, Central Visayas except Cebu City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao Region and Caraga.
This means individuals aged 21 to 51 will be allowed to go out even without quarantine passes to avail of essential goods and services.
Non-essential but non leisure and shops and service establishments may also resume operation.
The National Capital Region, Laguna and Cebu City will be under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31.
This means that movement within the zone for obtaining essential services and work and transporting services for essential goods and services remains limited, operation of selected manufacturing and processing plants will be allowed but only up to 50 percent workforce and physical classes remain suspended. (SunStar Philippines)