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Palace calls on people to ‘rise to the challenge’

March 17, 2020 - Tuesday 6:03 PM by Jon Joaquin

Article Banner Image LONG QUEUE. Police personnel man a checkpoint bordering nearby Cavite province and suburban Las Piñas in Manila on March 15, 2020, with temperature and identification checkpoints as part of measures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. TED ALJIBE / AFP


Malacañang on Tuesday called on the people to “rise to the challenges” of the “dangerous and extremely difficult phase of our history as a nation” as reports of confusion and difficulties circulated on Day One of the Enhanced Community Quarantine declared by President Duterte in Luzon.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said reports reached have reached his office on the plight of workers and employees stranded from work as well as health workers and those in the exempted group of the ban who could not go to their places of work.

“We immediately communicated such concern to the Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the latter swiftly directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to bring out their army trucks to ferry those who are stranded, particularly health workers and other individuals exempted from the ban, so they can be safely brought to their places of work and their homes after work,” Panelo said.

He said he also brought the problem to the attention of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and its chairman Danilo Lim “who gave an immediate positive response.”

“Chairman Lim has already coordinated with different bus companies, especially Wescapboa, a transport cooperative, and the West Cavite Philippine Bus Operators Association, as well as the Jasper Jean Bus Liner. They have started to send out their buses after marking the same with the official logo of the MMDA to put law enforcement agents on notice of their purpose of free public service in favor of those exempted from home quarantine,” Panelo said.

DAWN VISIT. President Rodrigo Duterte visits the Valenzuela-Meycauayan boundary along MacArthur Highway before dawn Tuesday as a large number of people are stranded after he declared enhanced community quarantine all over Luzon. Contributed photo

“Everyone is called upon to rise to the challenges of this dangerous and extremely difficult phase of our history as a nation,” he added.

Panelo cited the example of President Rodrigo Duterte who went out before dawn Tuesday to monitor the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

Photos of the President visiting the Valenzuela-Meycauayan boundary along MacArthur Highway went viral on social media on Tuesday.

At the same time, Panelo said Malacañang will continue to asses the evolving health crisis “to give the appropriate response to any problematic situation during this period.”

He also gave assurance that the inconvenience arising from the lockdown is “minuscule and temporary” compared with the end result of securing the people’s safety and survival from COVID-19.

“We reiterate our appeal to our countrymen that self-discipline and self-help plus selfless community cooperation are the keys to the success of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in these trying and perilous times,” he said.

Flight restrictions
Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente on Tuesday announced that outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any international airport in Luzon shall be allowed to do so only until midnight of March 20.

“Inbound passengers who are already in transit upon effectivity of the quarantine shall be allowed to enter, but will be referred to the Bureau of Quarantine if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions,” Morente said.

Morente clarified that apart from those in transit already, all passengers regardless of nationality will temporarily not be allowed to enter the country.

NOT HEEDING. People outside the Sangguniang Panlungsod building sit close to each other despite government’s call to practice social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19. ARJOY M. CENIZA

He said only inbound Filipino citizens, their foreign spouse or children, holders of permanent resident visas, and holders of 9(e) diplomat visas issued by the Philippine government shall be allowed entry.

Also exempted from the ban are arriving and departing uniformed personnel on official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance.

Morente advised all foreigners intending to leave before the 72-hour deadline to proceed to BI field offices, should they need to settle immigration obligations before leaving the country. With a report from PNA

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