MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Saturday assured the free movement of cargo, whether food or non-food, amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
This, after several manufacturers, distributors and retailers complained that trucks, including those carrying raw materials for food production, were reportedly being barred at checkpoints.
"All cargoes should be free to move... They should not be held or delayed, except if they are subjected to the usual precautionary measures," DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in radio DZMM.
The agency has released Memorandum Circular No. 20-06, guaranteeing the unhampered movement of cargo and permitting the transit of personnel of all establishments that are allowed to operate during the lockdown
The circular covers enterprises engaged in the manufacture of all food and essential products, medicine, and medical supplies such as, but not limited to, soap and detergents, diapers, feminine hygiene products, tissue, wipes, and toilet papers, disinfectants, medicine and vitamins; medical personal protective equipment, gloves, and masks.
This also includes businesses engaged in distribution and logistics to support manufacturing activities, including cargo handling, warehousing, trucking and port operations.
Retail establishments such as supermarkets, groceries, hypermarkets, convenience stores, and pharmacies and drug stores, and export and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies are also allowed to continue to operate.
"While the MC ensures the smooth and unimpeded movement of all cargoes in the Luzon area, when stopped at any checkpoint for random inspection, the cargo manifest or delivery receipt indicating the destination, nature, and quantity of the loaded goods/cargoes must be presented for them not be delayed," the DTI said.
Transit of personnel of these establishments shall be allowed in all checkpoints upon presentation of a valid company-issued identification card, proof of residence or certificate of employment.
To further facilitate this, an official inter-agency task force ID issued by the DTI shall be presented at checkpoints, instead of the usual identification requirements.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said he considered these interruptions as birth pains to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine guidelines.
"Right now we're seeing improvements," he said in a separate interview.
Lopez urged local government units (LGUs) to follow the guidelines set by the national government.
"Because we are in state of public health emergency, the policy made by the inter-agency task force must be followed," he added.
Lopez also assured the public there is sufficient supply of basic goods and necessities.
"We will not run short of supply if there's free movement of cargo. We are coordinating closely with the police on the checkpoints," he said.
In a separate briefing, PNP spokesman Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac urged employees and drivers to always bring their IDs and certificates of employment.
"Kahapon pa lang, naging maluwag na. Wala na pong congestion sa ating mga quarantine control stations. Tuloy-tuloy nang nakakaraan ang mga ito. Ipakita lang po ang inyong IDs at certificates," he said at the government-led Laging Handa briefing on state-run PTV4 .
Johnlu Koa, founder of the Philippine Baking Industry Group, an association of large-scale bakery operators in the Philippines, said some of their deliveries were held at checkpoints.
However, he assured that there is a stable supply of bread for Luzon as production continues.
"We would like to tell you that everybody has gone out of their way to make sure flour, sugar and other basic ingredients arrive in their factory, through hell and high water," said Koa, also founder and CEO of The French Baker and Lartizan.
Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) vice president Jerome Ong also complained the delay of deliveries of the materials due to the checkpoints.
However, he also assured the public that there is sufficient supply of canned goods and processed meat as millions of Filipinos are under lockdown.
"Hinding-hindi tayo mauubusan. Walang dahilan na mag-panic ang ating mga mamimili (We will never run out. Consumers need not panic). We assure everyone there's enough food to feed the country," said Ong, president and CEO of CDO Foodsphere, Inc.