GCQ no reason to relax travel restrictions–PNP
“Nonessential” travel across borders of towns and provinces may still not be allowed, even under the general community quarantine (GCQ), a top police official said on Friday.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said the public should not take the GCQ to mean free movement, as he warned that “unauthorized persons” attempting to cross borders could still be arrested and charged.
Eleazar issued the warning as the Philippine National Police braces for heightened movement of citizens when quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby areas are further relaxed starting June 1.
He admitted that due to the expected high volume of vehicles passing through PNP checkpoints, checks might only be done at random.
The PNP will also maintain its 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 followed, Eleazar said.
“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.
As Metro Manila transitions to GCQ on Monday, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) urged Filipinos to follow the protocols the government would impose.
“The government has prescribed the necessary health protocols and we urge our countrymen to observe these protocols in good faith as the economy cannot afford a second total lockdown that may result from a recurrence of mass infection,” said MAP president Francis Lim.
Public transport a concern
Ebb Hinchliffe, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, supported the shift to GCQ but said public transport was still a concern.
“The largest concern is still public transportation in regards to availability as well as public health care and enforcement of social distancing,” he said.
On Friday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros raised her concern over President Duterte’s decision to ease travel restrictions in Metro Manila starting June 1, despite the Department of Health reporting 539 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest in a single day.
“[T]his easing of the lockdown may expose thousands of Metro Manila workers and residents to a new wave of community transmission that will definitely overwhelm our already embattled health system,” Hontiveros said.
But Malacañang defended the easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque cited the people’s need to have a source of livelihood and the importance of reviving the shuttered economy.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.