Gov't sets special lanes for cargo deliveries amid quarantine gridlocks

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 12:51 PM

Police guard a portion of Shaw Boulevard leading to Mandaluyong City preventing motorists from crossing from Pasig City on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as the expanded community quarantine takes effect. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Random inspections of cargo deliveries in quarantine checkpoints in Luzon will be implemented beginning Wednesday to speed up the delivery of basic goods, the Philippine National Police said Wednesday, as the government restricts the movement of people to control the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

A separate lane for cargo deliveries will also be allotted in the North Luzon Expressway, and South Luzon Expressway to ensure the unhampered delivery of goods around Luzon, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.

"As of this time, naihiwalay na 'yung lane para po sa agricultural products sa NLEX at SLEX,” Banac said during a televised press briefing.

“Yung pagcheck ng mga bagahe, cargo sa likod ay random na lang po ginagawa at di na masusi gaya ng mga nakaraang araw,” he said.

(Inspection of baggage and cargo will be done randomly unlike in the previous days.)

Quarantine control points will be positioned in the two highways, Banac said, to avoid heavy traffic in checkpoints in Metro Manila.

Latest government guidelines on the delivery of goods provide that the PNP is “instructed to allow the unimpeded movement of all types of cargoes, subject to its authority to conduct inspection procedures in checkpoints for the purpose of ensuring that protocols on strict home quarantine are observed.”

Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine starting Tuesday which meant strict home confinement in all households, suspension of transportation lines, regulation of provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures. 

Government is also restricting travel for the duration of the quarantine period until April 12 with the exemption of health workers, and uniformed personnel on official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar meanwhile reiterated that cargo deliveries of food, basic commodities, and basic supplies should proceed unhampered.

Public markets, especially those in Metro Manila, are also allowed to operate to meet the food demands of the regoion, he said.

“Kailangan makarating ang vegetables na ito para sa requirement ng metropolis… Palagi lamang natin susundin din yung social distancing din po para ma-manage natin at masugpo po natin ang COVID-19 problem na ito,” Dar explained.

(Vegetable deliveries have to continue to meet the requirement in the metropolis…We should just always follow the social distancing protocols so we can manage the COVID-19 problem.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Philippines to declare a state of calamity to afford government enough leeway for better response to the spread of the disease.