A city legislator has called out some barangay officials in Puerto Princesa City for implementing “too strict border control measures” hindering movements of individuals who are permitted to work under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status.
Councilor Peter Maristela said at the question hour during the city council’s regular session last Monday that some barangays closed their entry and exit points when the MECQ was implemented in the city.
He added that according to the Local Government Code (LGC), road closures can only be implemented through an executive order from the local chief executive.
“Baka sumusobra na tayo sa pag-implement niyan. May kapangyarihan ba kayo na mag-implement ng ganyan? Based sa Local Government Code dapat may written order mula kay mayor, pero ang order niya ay maglagay ng border control points. Sa pagkakaalam ko ay wala din pong executive order na ibinaba si mayor,” Maristela said.
Maristela said he understands the intention of the barangays to protect their constituents against COVID-19, but also noted that officials should reassess their protocols to give ease to those who are authorized to go outside.
“’Yong iba ay wala pang bantay, kaya papaano makakadaan ang ating mga kababayan kung emergency. [May iba rin] na 50 meters na lang ang layo ng bahay nila [galing doon sa nakasara] ay iikot pa sila para makadaan,” he said.
“Ang ibang barangay ay hindi pinapayagan na pumasok ang APOR or essential workers,” he added.
San Manuel Barangay Captain Gloria Miguel who attended the question hour via Zoom said that they have already removed barricades a day after the start of the MECQ.
“Sinabihan ko kaagad ang mga tanod na i-open ang mga entry at exit point namin. Kagaya sa guidelines ay ang below 18 at above 65 lang ang bawal lumabas. Wala ng problema kung sila ay APOR or nagdadala ng mga essential [goods/services],” Miguel said.
Bancao-Bancao Captain Gayjhun Dangan also explained that tanods in his barangay have rotational duty shifts from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m the following day, in response to Maristela’s statement of border control points without any personnel.
“Hindi naman bawal dumaan doon. May mga daan na puwede [Ang daan na may harang at walang tao] d’yan po ay 7:00 a.m. kasi ang start ng mga tanod natin hanggang 4 a.m. na sila d’yan,” Dangan said.
Because of the closure of some barangay access roads, tricycle drivers also found it difficult with their designated routes.
Hernan Estrella, San Jose Tricycle Operator and Drivers Association (TODA) the designation of entry and exit points made matters worse for drivers.
“Hanggang ngayon ay malayo ang iniikutan namin – ang entrance ay sa may Lomboy Street at exit sa may Santol Street. Then ang Santol Street ay ginawang two-way para doon sa mga daanan ng mga tricycle na galing Tagburos at Sta. Lourdes. Tapos ang problema ay Lomboy Street ay ginawa nilang two-way pero bababa ang pasahero doon lang sa may 80 meters halos away from the highway,” Estrella said.
Meanwhile, City Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) spokesperson Atty. Norman Yap explained that the purpose of the barangay checkpoints is to ensure that the residents are following minimum public health standards and the reason of the residents outside is within the allowed purpose or services.
“Kung ganyan ang sitwasyon para mapatupad ang purpose ng barangay checkpoints ay hindi natin sila pinipigilan. Kung sabihin natin na lima ang checkpoints at dalawa lang ang kanilang mababantayan ay mapipilitan na magre-routing doon sa tatlo,” Yap said.