MANILA, Philippines – Checkpoints at the northern borders of Metro Manila lacked thermal scanners on Sunday, March 15, the first day of the lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus.
At the border separating Malanday in Valenzuela City from Meycauayan City in Bulacan, soldiers manning the checkpoint were not using thermal scanners. A soldier there told Rappler their scanners broke from the early morning of Sunday.
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said their health workers were supposed to provide the thermal scanners, but they were forced to pull out because the Philippine National Police (PNP) told them so.
“In the original setup, we should have had health workers doing the checkup for fever. We had thermal scanners, but at the last minute, the PNP bosses instructed us that it was no longer the setup. So they pulled out our people. The checkpoints are operated by PNP and Army so we have to follow,” Gatchalian said in a mix of English and Filipino on Twitter, in response to a video posted by Rappler.
At the Mindanao exit of the North Luzon Expressway, operations had to pause because the thermal scanners were running out of battery. When they worked, soldiers were only using thermal scanners, but not checking IDs.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Joint Task Force National Capital Region said their soldiers are equipped.
“Yes, we are equipped. Actually, the soldiers have different taskings. In a squad, two soldiers have a thermal scanner, while the others will check for the identification,” said 1st Lieutenant Arrianne Bichara, spokesperson for the task force. – Rappler.com