PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, yesterday called on the public to bear with the temporary inconvenience they may experience as Metro Manila and other parts of the country go on General Community Quarantine which is expected to trigger traffic jams anew as more Filipinos are allowed to return to work.
Since last March 16, traffic is very light in Metro Manila and other parts of the country as only a few Authorized Persons Outside of Residence were allowed to leave their homes during the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
However, the same traffic situation is expected to be very much different today as work and business returns under the ‘New Normal’ prompting Gen. Gamboa to call on the Filipino people to fully cooperate with GCQ protocols in Metro Manila and the rest of the country as part of the government’s continuing effort to fight the spread of the killer COVID-19 virus.
The PNP chief said police will continue to strictly enforce Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) guidelines on GCQ including the full implementation of checkpoints, curfew and travel restrictions as well as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.
According to the top cop, “the new normal will henceforth require everybody’s continued cooperation, patience, and understanding. Reason and public interest shall be the paramount consideration in every human activity from hereon, at least, until such time when the world shall have completely eradicated the virus,” he explained.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, also said the public should not take the GCQ to mean free movement since ‘non-essential travel’ across borders of cities, towns and provinces may still not be allowed under the ‘new normal’ to battle the spread of the killer virus.
Eleazar maintained that police and military troops manning Quarantine Control Points in strategic parts of the country will still arrest and charge ‘unauthorized persons outside of residence’ who will try to cross borders.
Lt. Gen Eleazar said due to the expected high volume of vehicles passing through PNP checkpoints, checks might only be done at random. However, he said police will maintain their presence at public areas and business centers to ensure that minimum health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks and regular sanitation measures are strictly implemented.
“The shift to GCQ should not mean everyone is now free to travel. What will only be permitted to cross geographical boundaries are those that are work-related,” he said.
Eleazar called on the public to adapt to checkpoints and curfew which will be the ‘new normal’ as the government continues massive effort to prevent the spread of the deadly virus and at the same time stem criminality.
He explained that while the government has eased the community quarantine restrictions, the fact remains that coronavirus infection is still present and will continue to threaten the Filipino people, thus the need to strictly implement previous quarantine protocols.
The official explained that there will be two kinds of checkpoints that will be conducted: One is through the Quarantine Control Points (QCPs) and the Dedicated Control Points (DCPs) for cargo and delivery trucks and the mobile checkpoints wherein random check in any part of the road will be done for private vehicles.
Currently, there are 4,398 QCPs and 115 DCPs across the country. The QCPs are manned and supervised by the police and the military while the DCPs are manned and supervised by the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz.