When the pandemic first hit the country back in March 2020, the Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG) suspended all road clearing operations to focus all efforts on containing the spread of COVID-19.
Now, after more than seven months of suspension, the DILG has announced the resumption of Road-Clearing Operation 2.0 (RCO 2.0). With it, the DILG has ordered all local government units (LGUs) to clear roads of any obstruction beginning on November 16, 2020.
“We hope that the LGUs, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, will show the same enthusiasm and positive results that they were able to achieve last year as we aim for safer and accessible roads free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano.
But don't expect the entire country to conduct RCO 2.0 operations immediately. Ano said that through DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-145, the resumption of RCO 2.0 varies in different degrees, depending on the quarantine classification of a specific area. Taking into account that COVID-19 is still present, the full implementation of RCO 2.0 will only take effect in MGCQ areas. Meanwhile, partial implementation will start in places under GCQ. As for areas under ECQ and MECQ, RCO 2.0 will remain suspended.
Also, barangays that are under a localized ECQ or MECQ may suspend the implementation of RCO 2.0, regardless of community quarantine classification.
Partial implementation in areas under GCQ is limited to the actual removal of road and sidewalk obstructions that are considered dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. The road clearing operations will also help establish bike lanes. On the other hand, full implementation in MGCQ areas will require LGUs to adopt all components of the RCO. With that, LGUs must remove vehicles parked in prohibited areas (sidewalks/alleys), illegal PUV terminals, vending sites of any kind, house encroachments that block right-of-way, protruding gates, and indiscriminate signage/advertisements.
There are, however, exemptions to the RCO 2.0. According to DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya, parked ambulance and public emergency vehicles; checkpoints established by IATF, LGUs, PNP, and AFP; and temporary obstructions caused by the establishment of bike lanes are exempt from being removed or apprehended. Part of the exemption are structures erected for locally stranded individuals (LSIs), as they can only be demolished once they have returned to their intended LGU destination.
With LGUs only having until January 15, 2021, to clear the roads of obstructions, officials have a lot of work on their hands come November 16, 2020. If LGUs fail to comply with the two-month deadline, they will face administrative charges.