PNP to go after private motorists violating ECQ
MANILA, Philippines —After empty roads in Metro Manila started to fill up again with private vehicles despite the Luzon-wide lockdown, authorities said on Wednesday they would be setting up checkpoints to check if these motorists were violating enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines.
Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said that the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (HPG) would be in charge of the mobile checkpoints to be set up on major thoroughfares.
The PNP-HPG headed by Police Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz Jr. would be coordinating closely with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in checking whether the driver or passenger in the private vehicle were among the Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (Apor).
If found to be violating the ECQ, drivers would be issued a traffic violation ticket from the MMDA or the Land Transportation Office. They would be fined and their licenses confiscated.
“We would like to emphasize that this is a clear violation of the home quarantine and social distancing rules. Again, we are reminding our countrymen that we will arrest you because this is prohibited under ECQ guidelines,” Eleazar said. “We need to do this. We must be very strict against these violators.”
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the move was taken after officials noticed a rise in the number of vehicles out in the streets despite the ECQ to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“To address this, and the reported increase in number of vehicles traveling along Edsa and major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, and upon the directive of the President, the PNP will strictly impose the policy on Apor,” Nograles said in a televised briefing.
Under earlier guidelines, Apor included health workers, members of state security forces, emergency responders, media, delivery personnel and employees of establishments providing essential services such as public markets, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, utilities and banks.
Also allowed are persons, but limited to one per household, availing of the services offered by these establishments. Nograles appealed for understanding and cooperation from the people, saying that everything “was being done … in order to prevent the virus from spreading. We appeal to everyone to please cooperate and as much as possible, stay home.”
“City-hopping” could be used as grounds for apprehending motorists, MMDA traffic czar Bong Nebrija told the Inquirer.
“What is the need for that…? Most of the essential things are only a short distance away from residential areas,” he said. “This reckless behavior would lead people to a misappreciation that they need a car to get around. That is not true.”
From March 17 to April 14, JTF Covid Shield apprehended 114,972 persons nationwide for violating ECQ guidelines. Of the total, 27,391 were arrested and charged.
The Philippines has reported more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19, many of them in Metro Manila. —With a report from Krixia Subingsubing
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