Workers, businessmen exempted from travel restrictions

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday, March 13, clarified that residents of nearby provinces who work and have official business in Metro Manila would be exempted from the travel restrictions.

Año said they would be allowed to get in and out of Metro Manila provided that they present identification documents showing that they work in the National Capital Region, which is the entire Metro Manila.

“Lilinawin ko lang sa mga nagtatrabaho kasama dito sa kautusan na papayagan ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho na pumasok provided lang na meron silang ID, merong silang magpapatunay na talagang ang work nila ay dito sa Manila kasi supposedly sana talagang gagayahin sana natin ‘yung ibang bansa like China na total lockdown pero syempre we also have to consider ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho na mga kababayan natin lalo na ‘yung mga ordinaryong nagtatrabaho,” Año said in a radio interview on Thursday evening.

“Basta related sa work, business, okay yan kasi yan ‘yung ipinaglaban ng mga economic cluster natin sina Secretary Lopez, Secretary Dominguez, yan talaga ‘yung kanilang dapat ay hindi ma-hamper ‘yung pagtatrabaho ng mga tao,” he added.

He was referring to Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Año said the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will establish checkpoints at the entry and exit points of Metro Manila when the community quarantine takes effect on March 15, 2020.

He, however, encouraged those who can work from home to do so also to avoid any inconvenience that may be expected during the inspection at the checkpoints.

“Lalo na ‘yung mga ordinaryong nagtatrabaho pero ‘yung mga puwedeng magwork sa bahay at with the advent of technology we encourage na mag work from home na lang at saka magkaroon din ng flexible schedule sana sa mga private sector na kaya nilang gawin yun para mabawasan ‘yung mga tao na nagbabyahe,” he said.

Año said the government, through the Department of Labor and Employment, will coordinate with the private companies for the possible adjustments in work hours to reduce the number of people coming in and out of the metro.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila will be placed under a community quarantine in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.

When the quarantine takes effect on March 15, no land, domestic air and domestic sea travel will be allowed to and from Metro Manila.

Año said it will not be a total lockdown but a form of “restricting movements” in the metro to stop the spread of the virus.

“We are just restricting movement especially coming in and going out of Metro Manila kasi una, ayaw na natin mag-spread itong virus from Manila going outside of Metro Manila kasi mas mahirap kapag iba-ibang probinsya at regions ay mag-spread ‘yung virus. So hanggang nandito sa Metro Manila ma-confine natin dito at dito na natin ibuhos ang ating effort at mga resources,” he said.

Año said public land transportation to and from Metro Manila will still be available to ferry employees living outside the metro but the Department of Transportation will issue guidelines to ensure that “stringent social distancing” is observed.

He said transport of goods is also exempted from the lockdown to ensure no disruption in the supply chain.

Año said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will meet within the day to iron out guidelines for the implementation of the President’s order. (SunStar Philippines)