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All cargoes now allowed to pass through checkpoints to ensure adequate food supply amid lockdown

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
coronavirus
In this March 17, 2020, photo, the NLEX-Mindanao Ave. bound for Luzon is closed to motorists due to scarcity of thermal scanners.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — All types of cargoes can now pass through checkpoints with ease after the government exempted them from the Luzon-wide lockdown to ensure adequate supply of food and other essential items in supermarkets and households.

In a memorandum circular dated March 20, the Department of Trade and Industry amended their previous guidelines and ordered that “[m]ovement of all food and non-food cargoes within, to, and from Luzon shall be unhampered, and if subjected to random inspection, shall not be delayed.”

Businesses engaged in production of food and essential products like medicines and disinfectants are covered by the memo, the DTI said. Retail establishments like supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies and business process outsourcing are likewise included in the order.

The DTI also told armed troops and cops guarding entry points to allow employees working in these enterprises and establishments to pass through.

Supermarkets recently sounded the alarm over depleting supplies as the month-long lockdown triggered a surge in shoppers hoarding products ranging from beef and chicken to disinfectants in preparation for self-isolation, while cargoes were left stuck with the rest of vehicles at checkpoints.

Supermarket owners earlier reported that deliveries were stopped at checkpoints, or worse, being forced to turn back despite repeated pronouncements from officials to police and soldiers to let food cargoes in unimpeded.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. on Friday warned the DTI that Luzon could face a “severe shortage” of canned meat products next month if the problematic enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine persists.

In a statement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the revised guidelines were released in response to the plea of manufacturers and supermarket owners that have been under extreme pressure to replenish tightening supply amid high demand.

“We completely understand the plight of the enterprises and establishments, and their people,” Lopez said.

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