Gov't assures free movement of all cargo amid Luzon quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — The government is stepping up measures to ensure that the shipment of all types of cargo will be unhampered amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

In a statement on Saturday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles admitted there were delays in the transportation of goods and raw materials during the "early stages" of the Luzon-wide quarantine.

"[V]arious agencies had been tasked to address the various aspects of the concern," Nograles said.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in a text message explained, "Ever since all cargoes allowed to move unhampered. Some checkpoints [were just] not aligned before."

Lopez, however, noted that the situation is now "getting better."

The Department of Trade and Industry on Friday issued a memorandum circular stressing that the movement of all types of cargo – whether food items or not – within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered.

"If subjected to random inspection (with cargo before delivery or empties after delivery), the movement of cargoes shall not be delayed, upon presentation of the cargo manifest or delivery receipt indicating the destination, nature, and quantity of the loaded goods/cargoes," the circular states.

The Department of Agriculture likewise announced the free movement of food items and farm inputs. Agriculture Secretary William Dar in a statement said this is "the best way to sustain stable prices of agriculture and fishery commodities and food products."

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, restricting people's movement, to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Mass transportation has been suspended. Only one person per household is allowed to leave home to buy basic necessities, while majority of work is suspended – except for health workers and those offering basic services. The government had earlier stressed that the movement of cargo to and from Luzon will still be allowed to ensure steady supply of food and other necessities.

The Philippines now has 307 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths and 13 recoveries.