The COVID Joint Task Force orders barangays to clear checkpoints along national highways

No barangay checkpoints should be set up along national highways. This was the order issued by the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) today. JTF CV Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar relayed this order from Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, Eduardo Año, due to complaints from basic commodity transporters over the varying rules and regulations implemented by local government units as part of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“Some of these barangay checkpoints are implementing their own rules which are clearly in defiance of the IATF guidelines,” Eleazar said. “We in the JTF CV Shield have been receiving similar complaints from cargo owners and drivers and even from people who are supposed to be exempted from home quarantine but were being barred in barangay checkpoints. The President's order is clear: the IATF guidelines should prevail in the ECQ rules."

Barangay checkpoints set up along national highways and provincial roads have been delaying the movement of basic commodities as well as the movement of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR).

“Our Chief PNP, General Archie Gamboa, has already directed all the police commanders to assist us in the implementation of the order,” he said in a statement.

Based on the DILG order, Eleazar said only PNP checkpoints are allowed along national highways and provincial roads and that only police personnel are allowed to inspect cargo trucks passing along the major thoroughfares. Barangay checkpoints are only allowed on interior roads, provided that there is prior coordination with the local police station for their presence. Even then, those barangay checkpoints must be supervised by the local police. The supervision of the PNP over all barangay checkpoints is necessary to ensure that the barangay officials implement rules and regulations that are not aligned with the IATF guidelines, particularly on the movement of APOR.

While the ECQ is only Luzon-wide, the order to dismantle barangay checkpoints along national highways and provincial roads also applies to areas in the Visayas and Mindanao as some local government units have also imposed their lockdowns amid the threats of Covid-19.

The JTF CV Shield is the enforcement arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). It is composed of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fire Protection.