Lugaw delivery stopped in Bulacan; barangay execs say it’s not essential
MANILA, Philippines — A food delivery rider who was set to pick up an order of “lugaw” or rice porridge from a merchant was waylaid by officials of a barangay in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, even if the national government guidelines for enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was clear about uninterrupted food delivery operations.
In a now-viral video on social media, the delivery rider who apparently works for GrabFood was intercepted by barangay officials who insisted that such services are not allowed under the ECQ.
According to barangay officials in San Jose del Monte’s Muzon area, the ECQ prohibits delivery services as a precautionary measure against the pandemic.
“Ba’t may Grab pa kasi? Bawal na po tambay, sir, eh,” the female barangay official said in the video, to which the rider replied that he has an order. “Bawal na nga po sir eh. Kasi hangga’t bukas kayo, may taong lalabas, may magdedeliver. Nonsense sir, video mo pa ako.”
(Why are Grab riders still operating? The government has disallowed people to loiter. It is not allowed. Because as long as you operate, people will go out, someone will deliver. It’s nonsense, sir, even if you video-record me.)
The female barangay official initially thought that the rider was the shop owner.
Discussions between the two ensued with the barangay official even contending that rice porridge is not essential because people can live without it.
“’Di niyo ba naiintindihan, nandito babasahin ko ha, curfew hours natin — sige video mo para maintindihan mo, ‘di ba alam ng Grab ‘yan?” the barangay official asked, which the rider answered by saying they are only following guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
(Can’t you understand, I’ll read this here, this is our curfew hours — go on, take videos so you would understand. Is Grab not aware of this?)
“Pero ECQ tayo, sir. Teka lang, sir, may pinapa-implement tayo, 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., okay, curfew ‘yan,” the female official argued, even showing what appears to be printed slides from the IATF presentation. “So dito naman, sa private establishments, essential goods and services, essential po ba si lugaw? Hindi, kasi mabubuhay ang tao nang walang lugaw. Ang essential, tubig, gatas, grocery.”
(But we are under an ECQ, sir. We are implementing restrictions, like a 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. So here, for private establishments, only essential goods and services are allowed to operate. Is rice porridge essential? No, because people can live without a rice porridge; what is essential are water, milk, grocery items.)
INQUIRER.net has reached out to the San Jose del Monte Police Station about the incident, and they explained in a phone interview that food deliveries are permitted as per IATF resolutions, even in an ECQ setup.
Bulacan is one of the five areas included in the so-called NCR Plus bubble, along with Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — which the national government placed under ECQ amid surges in COVID-19 infections.
The San Jose del Monte Police also noted that no police officer was present when the rider was stopped and that the actions were done by barangay officials only. Also, the police said no complaints have been lodged before them as of this writing as the rider was only barred from entering the barangay.
During the announcement of ECQ rules within the NCR Plus bubble, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that food shops and restaurants should remain open, but only for take-out and deliveries.
Delivery and courier services like GrabFood and other similar companies have also been allowed to operate at a full capacity.
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