The government is indeed serious in keeping the public inside the safety of their homes amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the COVID-19. However, there is another problem that both the government and the public face during these times of crisis, fake news.

Recently, news started to float around messaging groups and social media that beginning 12:00 AM, March 18, the North (NLEX) and South (SLEX) Luzon Expressways, as well as the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway), will be closed to all types of vehicles due to the ECQ. Initially, some were led to believe that this bit of news was true.

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However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) stated that the aforementioned expressways will remain open. What is happening is that due to the ongoing ECQ, the Philippine National Police (PNP), with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has several checkpoints in place in order to check for motorists and trucks delivering supplies for Metro Manila.

The gov't agency wishes to reiterate that only vehicles carrying uniformed personnel for official business, health workers, medical supplies and staff, media reporters with a special pass from PCOO; and those providing basic necessities and activities related to food, water, energy, telecom, bank, money transfer services, and medicine production will be allowed to pass through toll plazas where there are checkpoints.

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Motorists, however, are reminded that due to the nature of the checkpoints, long queues are to be expected at toll plazas as the PNP and AFP conduct stringent checkpoint procedures. The public is encouraged to cooperate and comply with the instructions at the checkpoints in order to ensure everyone's safety.

The next time you see a bit of news on social media and it was not posted by an affiliated government agency or personnel, take this information with a grain of salt and verify them if they are indeed legitimate. The last thing you want to spread during this time (apart from the COVID-19) is to share fake news.

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And as always; stay indoors, stay safe, and always wash your hands.