Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday urged the transport group leaders to help the police in the implementation of quarantine rules against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa, Eleazar ordered all police commanders to meet with the transport leaders in their respective areas of responsibility for the strict enforcement of quarantine rules.
This came after the JTF Covid Shield received reports that some tricycle drivers, especially in the provinces, are not wearing face masks and do not observe proper physical distancing for their passengers while plying their routes.
Eleazar said the defiance or the complacency being shown by drivers of tricycles and other Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) is dangerous since it would contribute to the spread of the coronavirus amid the continuous rise in accumulated cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“This must be addressed immediately especially that the passengers or the drivers themselves could be virus carriers already,” Eleazar said in a statement.
He said everyone should give no room for defiance and complacency “because all of our sacrifices for almost five months now would be useless if we continue to allow them to violate the quarantine rules.”
“If this calls for the arrest or cancellation of the driver’s license or the franchise, so be it. These hard-headed people must be taught a serious lesson for they cannot just disregard the minimum health safety standard protocol at the expense of the majority of our law-abiding citizens, at the expense of our front-liners especially our health workers who have already sacrificed so much in taking care of our infected kababayan,” he added.
Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Luis Licup, PNP Director for Operations and Vice Commander of the JTF Covid Shield, said a memorandum was already issued to the City Directors and Chiefs of Police, through the Regional Directors, for them to start the dialogue with TODA leaders in the soonest possible time.
“The Philippine National Police cannot do the enforcement alone. We need all the help that we can get to ensure that the quarantine rules are strictly and properly observed. TODAs are good force multipliers especially that their members are always on the streets performing essential services to medical front-liners and other APORs (Authorized Persons Outside Residence),” said Licup.
Eleazar said the meeting with local leaders of Transport Operators and Drivers Association (TODA) is aimed at encouraging their full support in policing their own ranks and eventually ensure the safety of their members and the passengers from coronavirus infection.
He pointed out that the National Task Force on Covid-19 led by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana made it clear to operators and drivers of public utility vehicles that the minimum health safety standard protocol for both the drivers and passengers must be observed in exchange for allowing them to operate.
Part of the phase 2 of the National Action Plan on Covid-19 is for industries and groups like TODA to be involved and responsible in ensuring that the minimum health standard protocols are observed among its members.
Eleazar expressed the belief that the TODA leaders would play a key role in the enforcement of healthy safety standard protocols since they have their own respective disciplinary measures for their erring members.
Recently, the NTF on Covid-19 also approved the recommendation for tricycle drivers and their passengers, as well as drivers, conductors, and passengers of other PUVs, to wear face shields aside from face masks as another layer of defense from coronavirus infection. The NTF on Covid-19 also required the mandatory wearing of face shields in workplaces effective August 15.
Eleazar said police commander should also coordinate with the local government units (LGUs), through their tricycle regulatory units, to remind the tricycle drivers and operators of the conditions set by the government when they were allowed to go out to earn a living.
“In this time of pandemic when everybody is prone to infection, let us make it an obligation to protect ourselves for the sake of our family, for the sake of our community, for the sake of our country. We are all front-liners in this fight against Covid-19, let us do our share in winning this battle,” said Eleazar.
The JTF Covid Shield enforces the policies that are crafted by the NTF on Covid-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to contain the spread of the Covid-19.
Based on the latest JTF Covid Shield data, a total of 320,102 quarantine violators were warned, fined and charged nationwide since the most stringent enhanced community quarantine was implemented on March 17. (PNA)