EDITORIAL - No entry
(The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2020 - 12:00am

While supermarkets and grocery stores wait for the speedy replenishment of their merchandise, shipping containers filled with finished products and raw materials for the manufacture of essential items are piling up at Manila’s international and domestic ports.

The inevitable result is a slowdown in the distribution and production of items that are in high demand during the enhanced community quarantine, from instant noodles to canned sardines and toilet paper, and even medical supplies.

With only a week left in the monthlong quarantine across Luzon, poorly informed persons manning checkpoints continue to stop delivery trucks transporting raw materials for food production, such as items for packaging as well as chemicals for food preservation and refrigeration. Perhaps the inspectors think canned sardines and instant noodles are harvested from trees.

To avoid the hassle, importers and manufacturers have simply allowed their shipments to sit at the Port of Manila, according to reports. As of last week, the International Container Terminal Services Inc. said 8,200 shipping containers that had already cleared the Bureau of Customs remained parked at the port, waiting to be picked up.

Congestion has always been a problem at the country’s busiest seaport. The Philippine Ports Authority has warned that if the shipments are not collected, the Port of Manila might have to shut down.

From Day One of the enhanced quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has been reassuring the public that there would be “unhampered” movement of cargo. Perhaps all the permutations of “unhampered” should be explained in every dialect to local government units, barangay offices, the military and police. For those who refuse to heed the IATF guidelines and reminders, they should be asked which part of the message they don’t understand. And then they should be slapped with appropriate sanctions.

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