The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has eased its entry rules on food transport, allowing trucks and vehicles carrying food products to use the dedicated lanes pending the issuance of their respective passes to ensure stable flow of supply in Metro Manila and Luzon.
The DA said it had eased its rules on the access and use of food lanes to avert further delays in the delivery of food supply in Luzon amid the prevailing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after reports of hampered trade a few days ago.
At the start of ECQ, industry stakeholders have reported that trucks and cargoes of farm products were delayed due to traffic in checkpoints, resulting in deaths of live birds, hogs, among others.
Furthermore, the delivery of animal feeds and raw materials for food production were also hampered due to confusion among people manning the checkpoints.
“We have simplified the process so while they are processing their food passes for their delivery trucks, they can just bring with them documents declaring the content of their truck and its point of origin and destination,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said.
“Those will be honored at checkpoints. We are doing this to allow easier transport of food supply while having their food passes being processed [at DA],” Evangelista added.
The DA also emphasized that the delivery of feed materials, such as corn, wheat, farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticide, as well as day old chickens are allowed to use the food lanes.
Evangelista said the government has now created two separate lanes in key entry and exit points in Metro Manila, such as Northern and Southern Luzon expressways, one for private vehicles with passengers and second for cargos and trucks carrying farm goods, which is the food lane.
“We are strengthening our communication with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to properly disseminate officers manning the checkpoints what are agricultural products that can use the food lanes,” she said.
The DA said applications for lane passes could also now be done through e-mail to avoid personal interaction between government employees and applicants amid the Covid-19 scare.
“Food pass applicants may also download, fill out, and e-mail scanned documents including the vehicle’s official receipt and certificate of registration to DA, DA-RFO [regional field office], or the bureau concerned,” it said.
“After receipt and checking of documents, the DA will e-mail back the food pass with QR code which the applicant should print as reference,” it added.
In partnership with Department of the Interior and Local Government, the DA said it will issue a final list of exit and entry points during the enhanced quarantine period.
“Authorized DA personnel will be posted in major thoroughfare entry and exit points to facilitate and provide needed assistance, if any,” it said.
Simplified entry rules
Law-enforcement agencies comprising the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) have simplified guidelines for the smooth passage of persons exempted from the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, an official said on Thursday.
“We immediately crafted this simplified guide due to observations that there appears to be confusion for both those tasked to implement the guidelines on the ground and the people themselves,” JTF CV Shield commander and Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in a phone interview.
JTF CV Shield is composed of PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fire Protection. It serves as the implementing arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).
Based on the guidelines, exempted from the quarantine are workers in basic services and delivery of goods and other necessities, and authorized government officials.
The basic services are sub-divided into four category groups: medical, funeral, emergency responders and security.
Workers of banks, delivery personnel, utilities personnel such as in telecommunications, water, and electricity are also exempted.
Only one person per household is allowed to buy basic necessities, the guideline said.
Skeletal forces of the Executive branch, capital markets like Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Security Exchange Commission are also allowed to pass through checkpoints.
Senators and congressmen, and their chiefs of staff, Cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries and bureau directors will also be allowed.
Others exempted are top officials of the judiciary down to judges and prosecutors, governors, journalists, employees of the business-process outsourcing, employees of the critical transport facilities and outbound and inbound international passengers and drivers.
Eleazar said police commanders have been tasked to disseminate information and coordinate with barangays officials.
Copies of the simplified guidelines will also be posted at checkpoints and other areas to avoid confusion as some continue to defy the home quarantine.
He also assured the safety of the police and soldiers with medical gear and equipment at checkpoints.
Meanwhile, PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa said he directed the dissemination of suggested special lanes at checkpoints.
In National Capital Region (NCR), Gamboa said police officers at checkpoints are on a 12-hour duty.
He said the three thermal scanners, with a camera worth P3.5 million each, were donated to the PNP.
“This is for our police officers not to have contact with those undergoing temperature test,” Gamboa said in a radio interview.
NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said has received three high-tech thermal scanners from a private company to boost the operational capabilities of its frontline troops deployed at checkpoints at the boundaries of Metro Manila.
Sinas requested support from its stakeholders for the acquisition of a high-tech thermal scanner to facilitate the smooth temperature checking of persons passing through our Quarantine Control Point (QCP).