THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has enjoined local government units (LGUs) to observe minimum health standards when they begin the 60-day nationwide road clearing operations starting today.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that after eight months of suspension due to the global pandemic, road clearing operations will resume all over the country except in areas under MECQ or higher and those still flooded due to recent typhoons.
“The road clearing operations are needed to ensure orderliness as we revive local economies without being complacent against COVID-19. Our transition to the ‘new normal’ calls for the need to ensure that our roads remain safe, accessible, and free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments,” he said Saturday.
“Bagaman patuloy ang serbisyo publiko at mga inisyatibo para manumbalik ang sigla ng ekonomiya, buhay at kalusugan pa rin ang pinakamahalaga. Panatilihin ang disiplina sa pagsusuot ng face mask at face shield, i-sanitize ang mga kamay at dumistansya ng isang metro sa bawat isa,” Año added.
According to the DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-145, areas under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) should be able to fully implement road clearing operations which means the implementation of all components of road clearing.
Año said that full implementation includes the removal of road and sidewalk obstructions, conduct of road inventories, physical removal of road obstructions without prejudice to the property rights of the affected stakeholders, crafting and implementation of displacement plans, rehabilitation, and maintenance of cleared roads, and creation of a grievance mechanism.
LGUs under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) shall do a partial implementation of road clearing operations. It is limited to the actual or physical removal or abatement of road and sidewalk obstructions that are considered hazardous to motorists and pedestrians. These are unauthorized parked vehicles, illegal structures, nuisances, and any other structures erected along or standing on, made immovable or otherwise, that impede safe and convenient passage through public road or sidewalk. The partial implementation also includes road clearing to establish bicycle lanes.
Meanwhile, road clearing operations are suspended in areas under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Año clarified that LGUs are not expected to conduct road clearing in villages, subdivisions, barrios, or along roads, streets, or alleys that are declared to be under localized ECQ or MECQ.
Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said that while the pandemic is not yet over, some structures or vehicles shall be exempt from removal or apprehension by LGUs concerning the fight against COVID-19.
“Iyong mga parked ambulances at public emergency vehicles at saka checkpoints ng LGUs, Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), pulisya o militar pati na rin ang pansamantalang istruktura para sa bicycle lanes ay exempted po sa road clearing operations,” Malaya said.
Malaya added that structures or obstructions erected or caused by locally stranded individuals (LSIs) shall be removed upon their return to their intended LGU destination.
He also clarified that all road closures currently set up by barangays without enabling ordinances nor approval from concerned authorities shall be dismantled and cleared to ensure unhampered public conveyance. Barangays, he said, under ECQ or MECQ may put up such road closures subject to the approval of concerned authorities.
The deadline for all barangays to submit a report on their road clearing operations conducted in November is on December 15.
As this developed, the DILG bared that validation of provincial, city and municipal compliance with the road clearing operations will be conducted on January 18 to 22, 2021.
Among the items to be validated by the DILG validation teams are the tricycle route plans in their respective areas to ensure that alternate routes are provided to tricycles who are prohibited by law from operating in national highways across the country.