MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker Wednesday urged the interior department to act on reports of delivery couriers being held up at checkpoints and people being arrested for picking up deliveries since the reimposition of enhanced community quarantine, saying law enforcers should allow vital services to operate in 'NCR Plus.'
In a statement, Sen. Risa Hontiveros expressed concern over reports of delivery riders who were not allowed to pass checkpoints and even ticketed by "heavy-handed" law enforcement personnel within the so-called "NCR+ bubble" despite government rules allowing delivery and courier services to continue unimpeded.
Several incidents have been shared on social media, including an account of a delivery rider who was supposedly ticketed by law enforcers at a checkpoint since he was delivering "non-essential" goods, and a viral video of a man arrested outside his home when he picked up food from a delivery rider.
"DILG should ensure that all quarantine guidelines are properly observed by our law enforcers, which includes allowing vital industries to remain fully operational. Enforcers should know the regulations that they're upholding and not just arrest people without basis," Hontiveros said in mixed Filipino and English.
Hontiveros pointed enforcers of health protocols to Section 2(4) of the Omnibus Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which says delivery and courier services are "allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken for the duration of the ECQ."
LOOK: A 21-year-old criminology student is arrested by barangay enforcers outside his house after he picked up a Grab order after curfew hours. @PhilstarNews
— Franco Luna (@francoIuna) March 30, 2021
"The regulation is clear that deliveries and courier services should be allowed, if they follow health guidelines and have proper identification. All law enforcers, whether police or local government unit personnel, should know that. They cannot invent and predict policy," she said.
On the first day of ECQ alone, the PNP disclosed that nearly 2,600 were arrested for various quarantine violations across Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
This comes on top of the over 17,000 have been apprehended for supposed quarantine violations since the PNP started deploying cops to enforce uniform curfew hours in the capital region.
In an assessment of the first day of enhanced community quarantine, the National Capital Region Police Office noted that peddlers and vendors selling food along highways were attracting commuters and recommended closer coordination with local governments and the Metro Manila Development Authority "to apprehend, warn and compel them to stay at home."
Hontiveros in her statement urged the IATF and local governments to implement a uniform process of allowing the safe delivery of goods to and from areas under stricter "granular" lockdowns where COVID-19 cases are high to ensure that the virus will not spread while people's livelihood and businesses may continue on a limited basis.
“Our law enforcers need to have an understanding in enforcing health guidelines because its purpose is to save people from COVID-19, not to starve them or kill employment,” she said, adding that rules during lockdown are only meant to curb COVID-19 infections, and should be interpreted to cause the least disruption to people's lives and livelihood.
"With unemployment and a record-high and severely limited financial assistance, health protocols should not overly restrict economic activities. Let's let our countrymen work in a safe way, especially since many are suffering today." — Franco Luna
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