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Modified checkpoints enforced

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield has implemented a modified conduct of checkpoint amid the influx of vehicles when the national government decided to partially re-open the economy.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said the purpose of modified checkpoints is to address the monstrous traffic jams created by the strict implementation of quarantine measures that include checking if physical distancing is observed and if there are unauthorized person outside residence (UPOR) inside the cars.

Since March 16 when some of the lockdown restrictions were lifted, more people and more vehicles appeared as more people were allowed to work and more business establishments were allowed to open.

“With the downgrading of Community Quarantine status in almost all areas in the country, there is a significant increase of motor vehicles everywhere. There are times where we cannot check all vehicles passing thru our fixed checkpoints since this could create monstrous traffic congestion, which will defeat the purpose of partially reopening the economy,” said Eleazar.

“Quarantine Control Points (QCPs), based on what happens in the ground, can adjust accordingly. Modified Checkpoints or random checking can be implemented to minimize traffic congestion and public inconvenience,” he added.

Based on the JTF COVID Shield data, there are more than 4,000 QCPs still set up across the country in order to continuously restrict the unnecessary movement of the people as the threat of the coronavirus still remains.

Under the modified checkpoint, policemen and soldiers manning the QCPs will still check the vehicles if the persons on board are Authorized Person Outside Residence (APOR), observing the rules on physical distancing and wearing face masks.

“But once there is already a traffic build-up, the checking could be stopped temporarily to allow all the vehicles pass freely. The strict checking of vehicles will resume if the traffic situation normalizes anew,” said Eleazar.

He, however, said that police commanders are given the discretion to implement their own schemes depending on the situation on the ground and the peculiarity of the situation in their respective areas of responsibility.

Eleazar said that vehicles that will not be checked due to modified checkpoint may still be inspected through the mobile checkpoint and random inspection of the HPG.

For his part, HPG director Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz said he had already ordered the deployment of hundreds of his men to conduct mobile checkpoints which will be set up in strategic areas based on the assessment of local HPG commanders.

“Motorists must be aware that they will be cited if caught with violation, which should serve as a deterrence to others,” he added. (Aaron Recuenco)