Military deploys trucks for stranded workers amid coronavirus lockdown

JC Gotinga
Military deploys trucks for stranded workers amid coronavirus lockdown
The military plans to make this a regular service during the Luzon-wide 'enhanced community quarantine'

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed its trucks and buses to help convey stranded health workers and employees of essential services in Metro Manila amid the “enhanced community quarantine” meant to avert the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Philippine Army sent out 9 large military trucks starting Tuesday night, March 17, to ferry workers from the Mall of Asia in Pasay City to EDSA-Santolan in Quezon City and vice versa, according to Army spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala.

The Army has sent another 9 trucks to service workers from EDSA-Santolan in Quezon City to Masinag in Antipolo, and vice versa.

The General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also sent two buses and 4 large trucks to take stranded workers from EDSA-Santolan to Balintawak in Quezon City, and vice versa, starting Tuesday night, said acting AFP spokesperson Major General Ernesto Torres Jr.

The Philippine Navy has also dispatched M35 trucks to EDSA corner Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, and also to the Cavite Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and areas of Marikina to ferry workers.

“They will ply this route and determine volume and need so a schedule can be determined. This will be regular and daily, to ferry health workers, and other essential and authorized personnel,” Zagala said.

The Army will adjust their routes according to demand, he added.

Those who need a ride on the military trucks must present their ID to show that they are covered by the lockdown exemptions.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila on lockdown on Sunday, March 15, and then the rest of Luzon on Tuesday, March 17, cutting public transportation and urging businesses to downscale operations to discourage people from moving around.

The Luzon-wide “enhanced community quarantine” will last until April 12.

The measure exempts health workers, security forces, media personnel, and employees of essential services such as groceries, drug stores, and local governments. It also allows people to buy food and supplies, and to travel for health reasons. (READ: GUIDELINES: Luzon ‘enhanced community quarantine’)

On Tuesday, the first day of the stricter lockdown, droves of people struggled to catch rides, and many were forced to walk all the way to their destinations.

Some local governments and agencies such as the Office of the Vice President will also deploy vehicles to service commuters who have legitimate reasons to travel during the lockdown.

The government hopes to quell the spread of the coronavirus by limiting the movement of people, urging them to stay home and practice “social distancing,” or keeping at least a meter away from one another to avoid contagion. (LIST: Areas in PH under quarantine, curfews, state of calamity)

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has had 187 confirmed cases of infection, 14 deaths, and 4 recoveries.

Experts posit that the number of local cases may reach 26,000 by the end of March if the current spread of the virus is not contained.

The global death toll, meanwhile, has reached 7,063, with 3,226 of the fatalities in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau). The number of cases worldwide has risen to 180,090, with more than 80,881 of the infections in China. The virus has spread to at least 145 countries. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.