Gov’t implements ‘enhanced community quarantine’ in Luzon vs. COVID-19

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The “enhanced community quarantine” ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to be implemented to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)  has taken effect on midnight of Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Among the measures that will be observed are as follows:

Classes and all school activities in all levels shall be suspended until April 14 and mass gatherings shall be prohibited.

Work in the executive branch of government shall be in a work from home arrangement except for the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services.

In the private sector, only private establishments providing basic necessities will be allowed to remain open during the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon, the Palace said Monday.

At a press briefing in Malacañang, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced that only the following establishments will be permitted to remain open:

Public markets

Supermarkets

Groceries

Convenience stores

Hospitals

Medical clinics

Pharmacies and drug stores

Food preparation and delivery services

Water-refilling stations

Manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines

Banks

Money transfer services

Power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities

“In all such open establishments, their respective managements shall ensure the adoption of a strict skeletal workforce to support operations, as well as all strict social distancing measures,” the memorandum from the Office of the Executive Secretary said.

Transit to and from the said establishments will be allowed.

“‘Yung basic necessities… those will continue to operate, so therefore you may go to them. If there’s no public transportation,  private vehicle,  or you’ll have to walk,” Nograles said.

Business Process Outsourcing  (BPO) establishments and export-oriented industries will likewise remain operational but must enforce social distancing measures.

Employers in these industries were also ordered to provide temporary accommodation for their workers by Thursday, March 18.

The public will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential travel such as purchasing basic necessities.

“May isang tao sa bawat household ang puwedeng bumili at umuwi para malimitahan lang natin ang labas-pasok,” he said.

Nograles added that private cars may be used provided that the trip is only for essential purposes.

Banks and other money transfer services will be allowed to continue operation.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said violators of the enhanced community quarantine may be arrested and penalized.

“Considering the gravity of the situation, our police and law enforcement agents may effect arrest under various laws,” Guevarra said in a news conference of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)  last Monday.

Guevarra  said the government will use applicable laws in enforcing the quarantine, such as Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code relating to resistance or disobedience to persons in authority.

Republic Act 11332 or Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern may also be invoked by law enforcers and violators may be imprisoned of not more than six months and meted a fine of not more than P50,000.

The enhanced community quarantine will be in effect over the entire Luzon from 12 a.m. of March 17 to 12 a.m. of April 13.

“Upon further study of worldwide trends and measures and the need for extreme caution during such times as these, I have come to the conclusion that stricter measures are necessary,” Duterte said in his televised address.

Duterte cited the spread of the virus in several areas in the country.

The Philippines has reported 142 cases, including 12 deaths, as of Monday.

“We do not have the luxury of time to wait if there is really such a connection of a contagion somewhere. I cannot go into a guessing game. I have to act,” Duterte  said.

Duterte stressed  that the quarantine measures taken by government are not tantamount to martial law.

“This is not martial law,” he said. “Huwag kayong matakot. Walang magdi-display ng baril diyan except ‘yung mga members ng Armed Forces o police,” Duterte said.

Duterte, meanwhile, said he would still go out in public even after he told everyone in Luzon to stay home as much as possible to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

“Unahin ko na ‘yung na-assign diyan sa frontline sa COVID… I would also like to join them para walang masabi ang tao,” Duterte said.

“Ako lalabas ako. You will see me. Ay lalabas ako. Hindi ako maniwala niyang, kasi ako may ibang doctrine ako sa buhay eh. And that is kung panahon ko na, panahon ko na either COVID, bala, crash o anuman,” Duterte  said./Stacy Ang

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