MANILA, Philippines – In an attempt to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines, the Duterte government began on Sunday, March 15, its lockdown of Metro Manila, the country's most populous and developed region.
Effective Sunday midnight, the area of over 12 million people was placed in a state of "community quarantine," which involves a ban on land, domestic air, and domestic sea travels in and out of the region.
While the lockdown is intended for a month, until April 14, Malacañang said the inter-agency task force leading government efforts in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak could recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte an earlier termination or extension of the lockdown. (READ: What we know so far: The Metro Manila coronavirus lockdown)
The lockdown covers 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila, as prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
How will the lockdown work? Thousands of combat uniform-wearing cops have been allotted to stand guard in roads that connect Metro Manila to its adjacent provinces, namely: Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan.
As of 11:30 pm of Saturday, PNP Director for Operations Major General Emmanuel Licup said they had identified 76 checkpoint spots. He did not disclose their locations.
The cops have been tasked to keep people from leaving and entering the region, unless they fit the government's list of exemptions, including workers, health personnel, authorized government officials, and people traveling for medical and humanitarian reasons. Check the list here.
Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas earlier said cops would close down small roads while establishing checkpoints along major roads and highways.
Sinas said in the same briefing that police would arrest trespassers and charge them with violating the Revised Penal Code and the quarantine law. It is unclear how cops will enforce this.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.