Persons with travel exemptions told not to abuse privilege

MANILA – Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, on Sunday called on persons with travel exemptions during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to not abuse the privilege given them.

Citing reports from police officers manning various quarantine control points, Eleazar said some of those given exemption, including the identification cards issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), use it as an excuse to “deliberately violate” the strict quarantine rule on non-essential travel.

“They should not use this exemption to engage in travels that are not connected to their job because this is really unfair to the majority of our kababayans who are strictly abiding by the government’s prohibition not to engage in non-essential travels in this time of pandemic,” Eleazar said in a statement.

The IATF issued community quarantine exemption to groups or workers whose nature of the job is classified as a necessity to provide basic needs and services of people required to stay home. Those given exemptions are listed as authorized persons outside residence (APOR).

To be listed as APOR, a person must be working as a front-liner in the fight against the coronavirus and working for industries permitted by the government to operate and presence outside of their communities and their travels must be work-related.

These were either issued with identification cards by the IATF for exemption from community quarantine or are jist allowed to present their company identification cards or other documents as proof of employment.

“The main and only reason behind the exemption from community quarantine is for them to go to their places of work because the nature of their jobs is essential to provide the basic goods and services to our people under community quarantine, and for them to go back to their homes,” Eleazar said.

He instructed the local police commanders to task their personnel supervising and manning the control points to scrutinize the identification cards and other documents presented to them, particularly on the home address and place of work, in order to determine whether or not the travel is essential.

Despite the easing of quarantine restrictions in most areas of the country, more than 74,000 personnel of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield are still deployed to man checkpoints and conduct other operations related to the efforts to contain the continuing threat of Covid-19.

Eleazar said about 63,418 JTF COVID Shield personnel are from the Philippine National Police, 10,968 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

“Since March 17, we have been actively performing the duties and responsibilities assigned to us and keep on improving our strategies on the ground so that all our sacrifices will not go to waste,” Eleazar said.

The JTF COVID Shield is the enforcement arm of the National Task Force on Covid-19 and IATF-EID.The number of quarantine control checkpoints increased anew after Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were reverted to MECQ last week in response to the call of medical workers for a “timeout”. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA) 

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