BONTOC, Mountain Province – Provincial and police officials here solicited the understanding and cooperation of the local populace as they defended civilian and police officers manning the various checkpoints in the province from unjustifiable comments from some individuals.
“Please be reminded that the setting up of checkpoints is a national imposition and not a decision of local political and police officials. It is in compliance to a memorandum from the Executive Secretary putting the whole island of Luzon under Enhanced Community Quarantine from March 17 to April 14, 2020. The executive issuance mandates all heads of departments, local government units and all government instrumentalities to impose home quarantine and stringent social distancing measures,” Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan and Police Provincial Director Homer Penecilla explained amidst protests that checkpoints limits the movements of people.
The memorandum states that the only justifiable reason for people to move out from their houses is when they are to access basic necessities, provision for food, and essential health services. “The problem here is the lack of time to inform the people of the contents of the memorandum. We just hope that gradually they will cooperate since we are very liberal in interpreting the provisions of the memorandum. There indeed could have been problems but they were immediately attended to,” the two officials chorused.
The two officials made the statements after receiving calls and personally hearing comments from commuters when they went around the entry and exit points in the province last Wednesday to monitor traffic along the province’s main thoroughfares.
Aside from restricting the movement of people, the memorandum also prohibited mass gatherings, and suspended classes in all levels. Operations of transport facilities were also suspended and business establishments are to close shops except those providing basic necessities and medical supplies.
In conformity with the memorandum, governor Lacwasan issued an administrative order mandating provincial government employees to bring their work at home. In the new working arrangement, which took effect last March 17 up to April 14, employees will not report to their offices but should make their lines open for any information that may be relayed or asked from them. Failure to answer calls shall be considered as absence. Exempted from the order are employees under the Provincial Security Office, Provincial Hospitals and Provincial Health Office, Provincial Veterinary Office, and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.
Almost all municipalities in the province have also given out orders of the same nature in an effort to manage the possible spread of the COVID-19. In the municipality of Sagada however, Mayor James Pooten required all department heads to help in manning the checkpoints around the tourist town.
At the capital town, Mayor Franklin Odsey convened employees and representatives of concerned sectors to ask for their understanding more particularly at the central barangays where most of the checkpoints are put up. Residents of the central barangays need a permit from their barangay chairmen certifying the need of their travel outside their village before they will be allowed entry to other barangays. Market vendors are also required to show proof of their business so that they can enter the market compound. Hospital authorities are likewise mandated to issue identification cards to watchers of patients as their passes to and from the health facility.
So as not hamper the transport of basic commodities, businessmen are to secure permits from their local chief executives. Those transporting goods within the province can secure permits from the office of their respective mayors while those travelling outside the province to transport or haul basic commodities can secure permit from the office of the provincial governor.
In case of emergencies, Colonel Crisante Sadino of the Provincial Police Office revealed that the provincial police leadership has directed municipal police offices to make available patrol cars. “These could be used to transport people who need immediate medical attention and for other emergency purposes,” the police officer said.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office reported last Thursday that no one from the province been tested positive of the corona virus. Assistant Provincial Health Officer Carol Yawan made the announcement to dispel public fears from rumors that some residents of the province were confirmed as carriers of the deadly virus.