DILG: Dismantle all checkpoints
MANILA, Philippines —The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday ordered barangays to dismantle the checkpoints they had set up along national and provincial roads as a control measure against the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said he issued the directive amid complaints that barangay checkpoints had been “impeding” the transport of goods and “essential people” as the country tries to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only checkpoints manned by the Philippine National Police are to be allowed, and only PNP personnel are authorized to inspect cargo trucks, he said.
Año issued the order days after a checkpoint manned by the Philippine Marine Corps, the PNP and barangay personnel blocked the entry of a five-vehicle convoy that carried 22 persons, purportedly workers of Philippine online gaming operators, as well as food, medical and office supplies as it tried to enter the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Cagayan on Friday morning.
The convoy was escorted by two police officers from the national headquarters in Quezon City, but they were prevailed upon by Marine and barangay personnel, according to local sources.
In his new directive, Año said local government and barangay personnel would no longer be allowed to inspect cargo.
In addition, checkpoints along interior roads set up at entry points of barangays must be supervised by PNP personnel, the DILG chief said.
“There is no need for PNP presence [at the checkpoint] at all times, but they must be authorized and monitored by the PNP; otherwise, the barangays are making their own policies again in contravention of [interagency task force] guidelines,” he said.
But drivers of trucks carrying food items and other basic necessities during the Luzon-wide quarantine were assured of assistance in passing through quarantine checkpoints set by various local government units.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy for operations, on Tuesday made this assurance after receiving reports that some delivery trucks carrying vegetables are being blocked and held at some village checkpoints.
“To transporters of basic goods and services, do not be afraid of announcements from LGUs (local government units). Continue with your deliveries and you will see that you will be allowed and assisted by the PNP. We will continue to clarify these issues with the LGUs,” Eleazar told dzMM.
Eleazar, who is also the head of Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield, said truck drivers should expect their body temperatures to be taken at quarantine checkpoints while police officers on duty would ask that they present their delivery invoices and receipts.
For any untoward incidents in passing through quarantine checkpoints, Eleazar said truck drivers may call the PNP Command Center at 0998-8490013 and 0917-5382495 for assistance.
The PNP previously ordered that chiefs of police supervise all checkpoints including those being manned by barangay officials to ensure that only policies from the Inter-Agency Task Force are being enforced. INQ
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