Netizens and media have been reporting an unusual increase in road traffic starting Monday, April 13 evidenced by images of numerous cars on roads including the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). Despite the whole of Luzon being put under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown until April 30, there are still a lot of motorists still going around.
As the cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines breached the 5,000 barrier into 5,223 confirmed cases according to the Department of Health (DOH). These alarming images and data have prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to strictly impose the Authorized Persons Outside their Residences (APOR) protocol as part of the ECQ.
From now on, those on the road will be subjected to stricter inspections at checkpoints on major roads.
The PNP-HPG (Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group) has set up checkpoints along key routes to apprehend those traveling without a pass or those out on the road for non-essential travel. This is a directive by the IATF and has authorized the PNP-HPG to apprehend the violators. For those who do not comply, they face the confiscation of their drivers' licenses and issued tickets with corresponding fines.
IATF's instruction to the PNP-HPG? Inspect all private vehicles and apprehend motorists without passes, those on non-essential trips, and those transporting non-authorized persons. The only ones allowed to go out on the road are APOR, medical and healthcare workers, employees of essential services, and other front liners such as police officers and select government personnel.
The stricter enforcement of ECQ is due to the fact that traffic had become heavier along major roads, concluding that many are now becoming more complacent during this time. The government is urging the public to stay home during these difficult times and only go if it's necessary.
The MMDA had posted photos of traffic along EDSA Greenhills (SB) where one of the checkpoints is located, and the netizens reacted by directing their disdain at those who break ECQ rules. One said that people must stay home for the sake of the front liners and their families, while others say the actions for those who do not follow the government's advisories will result in lockdown extensions.