Last night, President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine government adopted Resolution number 11 by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), effectively placing the entire Metro Manila under “community quarantine” starting 12:00 AM of March 15 until 11:59 PM of April 14. International and domestic travel by land, air, and sea into Metro Manila will be restricted restricted.
While the government has the best intentions for the greater good of the public to inhibit the spread of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), the President's announcement has raised more questions than answers. After all, the broad statements can easily be misconstrued by the panicking public. Some netizens expressed confusion on whether travel to and from Metro Manila for work or emergency would also be completely forbidden, and so on.
Unlike other more developed nations that have created a Quarantine Manual — where all the procedures and protocols that will be followed are outlined — in the wake of SARS and MERS epidemics; the government is still formulating the implementing rules and regulations of the community quarantine.
Unlike the national government and its attached agencies, the military, on the other hand, already has a manual that outlines the procedures during emergencies like what we're facing now. That said, MotoPinas.com has asked probably the best available resource person we could reach with first-hand knowledge about the things about to unfold. Our source, an officer from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who requested to remain anonymous, indulged us on the do's and don'ts during the “lockdown.”
“The ultimate goal here is social distancing,” said our source.
When asked about the lockdown, he shared with us what the Armed Forces is tasked to do:
- The Armed Forces will put up checkpoints at all major roads going in and out of Metro Manila. Travel will be restricted.
- Deliveries of commodities will be permitted, provided the appropriate paperwork is in order.
- Workers coming from cities outside of Metro Manila will be permitted to come in and come out from the metro, provided that they show proper identification.
As a motorcycle rider myself, I asked the million-peso question: will motorcycle riders be permitted to engage in their casual Sunday (leisure) ride? “All casual or leisure rides will be prohibited from the time being,” our source answered.
He also added that, as motorcycle riders, there is a high possibility that one of us can be a carrier of the virus. Since riders can go to places faster and further than other tourists, we risk infecting the townspeople of the localities we will be visiting. For now, he says, it is best to be prudent and hold off on those out-of-town rides until the situation improves.
Also, he urged the public to remain calm, avoid panic-buying, and, stay at home.
“If it is not an emergency, stay at home. If you want to drink, just stay at home. If you want company, just use your mobile phone [to communicate through social media] and stay at home!”