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‘Stay home during ECQ or face arrest’

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
âStay home during ECQ or face arrestâ
Members of the Quezon City Police District continue to conduct checkpoint along the boundary of San Mateo, Rizal and Quezon City on Aug. 5, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has warned all Metro Manila residents to just stay home or risk apprehension by police as the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starts today.

Under IATF guidelines, only authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) will be allowed out, including one member per family to buy food and other essential goods.

“We will be strict in this, we need to. If you won’t comply and insist on going outside, of course we will arrest you. Those who won’t follow may continue the transmission and be a carrier of COVID-19,” Año said.

He added that while government only plans for a two-week ECQ, an extension is not ruled out, depending on advice from experts and data analysts.

The ECQ in Metro Manila is needed to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks fueled by the Delta variant similar to what happened in India and Indonesia, National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

“We must do something to disrupt the transmission. We also consulted the business sector prior to recommending the ECQ status, they said, if we will not do something drastic to stop the transmission, we might not recover in the fourth quarter,” Galvez said during the House committee on health hearing on Wednesday.

Hasten aid distribution

Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday urged the national government to hasten the distribution of financial assistance to the poorest families directly affected by two-week ECQ. The government allotted P13.1 billion to provide a one-time cash grant of P1,000 to P4,000 per qualified family in NCR.

“At this time, we should have no other priority but to provide immediate assistance to the families affected by the lockdown, especially those who have lost their livelihood. We have implemented ECQ several times, so we expect that by now, we have already ironed out the process and system of delivery of assistance,” Robredo said in Filipino.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar meanwhile announced that APOR workers can now be fetched by non-APOR drivers during ECQ, a reversal of the earlier ban on the “hatid-sundo” practice.

“After weighing all these things, there are new guidelines to allow non-APOR to fetch APOR,” Eleazar said on Teleradyo.

He explained that non-APOR persons should have a copy of the certificate of employment of the worker APOR, indicating the non-APOR driver’s name, vehicle make and plate number, employer’s contact number and a copy of the employer’s business permit.

Yesterday, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Imee Marcos, Koko Pimentel, Joel Villanueva, Tito Sotto and Risa Hontiveros urged the PNP to clarify its “hatid-sundo” policy.

Marcos also urged authorities to arrest hoarders and profiteers of basic goods and medical equipment, as well as implement a 60-day price freeze, citing reports that oxygen tanks and accessories were running out in Cebu and Aklan.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello for his part downplayed the possible adverse impact of the lockdown on the country’s employment.

“Because of this two-week lockdown, we expect to see that employment rate will go downward and the unemployment rate will increase. But it is only for two weeks. I am confident we will bounce back after the lockdown,” Bello said. — Neil Jayson Servallos, Janvic Mateo, Emmanuel Tupas, Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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