Checkpoint gimmick gets residents to stay at home

Marje Pelayo   •   March 28, 2020   •   514

PAMPANGA, Philippines — Filipinos are known for their creativity and propensity to look on the brighter side of life when faced with any crisis.

Authorities found it a challenge to keep everyone inside their homes under the enhanced community quarantine when the risk of getting infected with the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is high.

To emphasize the importance of home quarantine, checkpoint police at Sto. Tomas in Pampanga thought of a drastic way to convince residents.

They placed an empty coffin at checkpoints and posted a grim reminder: “Stay at Home or Stay Inside.”

Meanwhile, Barangay Sto. Niño in the municipality of San Simon, Pampanga also made use of coffins to deter residents from violating the curfew.

They would make rounds at night carrying a coffin as if on the lookout to fill it with those who are foolish enough to cross their path beyond curfew hours.

Credits to: Louella Castillo Gutierrez

Police Regional Office 3 Director PBGen. Rhodel Sermonia expressed support for the initiative of his men as such measures would deter residents from violating home quarantine and community quarantine protocols.

Sermonia made rounds to inspect each checkpoint in his area and to personally remind motorists to practice preventive measures against COVID-19.

“Ikaw kuya? Wala ka man lang protective guard, hindi ba kayo natatakot? Hindi ba kayo natatakot dito? Sinabi na nga. Basahin mo, ano’ng nakalagay dyan (You? You are not even wearing a protective guard, are you not afraid? Are you not afraid of this? It’s a warning. You read it. What does it say?),” Sermonia said accosting a resident explaining the importance of wearing personal protective gear.  

“Bilhin mo na lahat ang gusto mong bilhin ngayon. Dapat isang beses lang sila sa isang araw. Kapag kayo na-infection, kawawa po kayo (You buy everything you need now. You should only be going out once a day. Once you get infected, you’d suffer),” he told a motorist who was on his way to buy goods.

The general also stressed strict practice of physical distancing among residents walking on the streets.

He personally checked each passerby for their home quarantine pass to make sure they were authorized to go out.

The national government’s enhanced community quarantine is on its 10th day which orders all residents in Luzon to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities appealed to the public to refrain from non-essential movements outside their homes to avoid contracting the disease. MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Poe asks Meralco to delay payment for ‘shocking’ bills until updated ones arrive

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to hold off payment for electricity bills until it addresses “confusing” and “unusually high” charges to consumers amid the community quarantine.

In a statement, Poe asked Meralco to address the concerns over the “shocking” electricity bills received by consumers this month.

“We ask Meralco to issue a final and correct billing based on accurate meter reading of the actual kilowatt-hour consumption,” she said.

“Until such accurately updated bill indicating exact staggered due is received by customers, it is proper that they hold off payment,” she added.

Meralco earlier explained that the significant increase reflected in power bills was due to the higher consumption and large number of people staying at home amid the quarantine to prevent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.

It also said that the March and April bills were based on the average daily consumption of consumers from December 2019, and January to February 2020.

“While we recognize the efforts of Meralco to explain, the confusing billings and unusually high charges have left many households in distress, especially those who lost their sources of income due to the lockdown,” Poe said.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, added that while correcting the electricity bills, Meralco should also assure continuous power service in households amid the public health crisis and hot season.

“As the company sorts out our billings, they should keep our lights on as uninterrupted power supply is crucial to run life-saving equipment in hospitals and to keep people connected,” she said.

Meralco earlier said it has suspended the disconnection of unpaid accounts falling due within the quarantine period. It added that some of its meter-reading activities have already resumed and that it remains accurate and transparent.

The power distributor also stressed that consumers may opt to pay their bills on a staggered scheme following guidelines issued by the government amid the quarantine.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte calls out ‘fault finders’ of gov’t anti-COVID-19 efforts

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Davao Mayor Sara Duterte has called out people who criticize the city government’s efforts to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the measures of which, she said, are for the good of the residents.

In a statement, Duterte questioned those who complain and find fault with the measures being enforced by the local government amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Kung daghan ang mga nasakit ug mamatay, mag-reklamo tanan. Kung buhatan ug pamaagi para ma-control ang masakit ug mamatay, mag-reklamo pud tanan. So asa ninyo gusto ibutang ang inyohang gobyerno?” she asked.

(If many people get sick and die, everybody complains. If we take steps to prevent people from getting sick and die, everybody complains. So where do you place your government?)

Mayor Sara, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, stressed that the government is working overtime, and doing all means to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Wala mi Sunday kagahapon because gi-meetingan na siya (clustering) kagahapon. So samtang kamo naa mo’y Sunday kagahapon ang gobyerno kagahapon naghuna-huna paunsa dili mo masakit tanan ug ‘di mo mangamatay tanan,” she said.

(We do not have a Sunday break because we met yesterday to discuss it [clustering]. While you were having your Sunday break, the government was working on ways to keep you from getting sick and dying.)

Since the city government declared different community quarantine levels back in March, several lockdown measures had been imposed to slow the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

These include the implementation of strict stay-at-home measures, food rations, and the delivery of agri-food, and hot meals on wheels to vulnerable families and individuals displaced by the temporary closure of some establishments during the quarantine period.

The city government also imposed district clustering to lessen the volume of people going out of their residences.

Under this control measure, food and medicine passes given to residents are number coded – passes starting with numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 are allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while asses with numbers starting 2, 4, 6, 8, 0 are used Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

No food and medicine passes are allowed on Sundays.

The city government also opened seven facilities to house suspected COVID-19 cases to decongest the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

“Despite all these efforts, some Dabawenyos continue to violate stay-at-home orders and physical distancing. Some even speed off checkpoints to avoid inspections,” the city government said.

“These clear violations have prompted the city government to extend the community quarantine period as coronavirus disease still unfolding,” it added.

In the latest figures, Davao City has 92 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 16 deaths, and 58 recovered patients.

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