Police to enforce stricter stay-at-home rules as more motorists hit the road

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — The national government starting Wednesday will implement stricter traveling measures to ensure the public is following lockdown rules to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte has noticed the increase in number of private vehicles on the road despite strict orders to stay at home.

"Napapansin po ito ni Pangulong Duterte at siyempre mga miyembro ng IATF na medyo nagiging kampante na po ang ating mga kababayan pagdating sa ECQ," he said in a virtual briefing.

[Translation: President Duterte and members of the COVID-19 task force have noticed that Filipinos are getting more complacent in following the rules of the enhanced community quarantine.]

To address the increase in the number of vehicles travelling along EDSA and other major thoroughfares of Metro Manila, traffic enforcers from the Philippine National Police were directed to inspect all private vehicles to determine if the driver and passenger belong the list of people allowed to go out.

The list of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) include workers in sectors that are essential during a public health crisis, such as health, security, emergency response, banking, vendors, delivery, sanitation, etc. One person per household is allowed to go out to avail of essential services, such as food shopping.

Nograles said that if the police officers apprehend people who are not authorized to go outside, the driver will be issued violation tickets from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) or Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

"Siyempre ang lalabag, pasensya," the Cabinet official said.

[Translation: Those who will violate have to face the consequences.]

Joint Task Force COVID Shield Commander Guillermo Eleazar said mobile checkpoints will be placed in major roads in Metro Manila.

"Maaring ang ibang mga kababayan natin ay naiinip na kaya naisipang mag-road trip... Ipinapaalala namin sa ating mga kababayan na huhulihin po namin kayo dahil ito po ay bawal under the ECQ guidelines,” he said in a statement.

[Translation: Maybe some are going on road trips because they're bored. We are reminding them that they will be arrested because this violates quarantine guidelines.]

PNP-Highway Patrol Group Director Eliseo Cruz Jr said officers will be strict in enforcing the home quarantine and social distancing rules on private vehicles.

“If there is at least one UPOR (Unauthorized Persons Outside Residence) as passenger or the only occupant is the driver but he is also UPOR, we will arrest them,” he said.

MMDA wants to implement stricter guidelines for motorists during the enhanced community quarantine due to the noticeable rise of road traffic in some parts of the metro.

Four weeks into the Luzon-wide lockdown, MMDA traffic chief Bong Nebrija believes most people have gotten complacent.

"Kung kailangan pa natin i-enhance ang ECQ, we might go to that kasi (And if we need to enhance the ECQ, we might go to that because) we barely have two weeks to go before we transition to the 'new normal,'" he added." Nebrija told CNN Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the extension of the lockdown in the region until April 30 as the government continues to grapple with the rising COVID-19 cases. Public transportation, work and some social gatherings are prohibited to help minimize this surge in cases.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is still discussing what measures it will take and implement after the extended quarantine lapses. So far, it has not been decided whether or not the quarantine will be lifted.

The Quezon City government previously banned retail selling in the Balintawak markets following reports that the area was packed with cars and people over the weekend. The city, which is the largest and most populous in Metro Manila, has earlier placed some of its barangays under "extreme enhanced quarantine."

The Philippine National Police has apprehended 115,000 people nationwide who violated the enhanced community quarantine by not following curfew or social distancing guidelines. 

There are now 5,223 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines with 335 deaths. A total of 295 people have already recovered from the infection.