December 1, 2023

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Provincial and police officials here solicited the understanding and cooperation of the public as they defended civilian and police officers manning the various checkpoints in the province from comments from some individuals.
The setting up of checkpoints is a national imposition and not a decision of local political and police officials. It is in compliance to a memorandum from the Executive Secretary (Salvador Medialdea) putting Luzon under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 14. The executive issuance mandates all heads of departments, local government units and all government instrumentalities to impose home quarantine and stringent social distancing measures, Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan and Police Provincial Director Homer Penecilla explained amidst protests that the checkpoints have limited the movement of people.
The memorandum states that the only reason for people to move out from their houses is when they are to access basic necessities like food and essential health services. 
“The problem here is the lack of time to inform the people of the contents of the memorandum. We just hope that gradually they will cooperate since we are very liberal in interpreting the memorandum. There indeed could have been problems but they were immediately attended to,” the two officials chorused.
The two officials made the statements after receiving calls and personally hearing comments from commuters when they  went around the entry and exit points in the province last Wednesday to monitor traffic along the province’s main thoroughfares.
Aside from restricting the movement of people, the memorandum also prohibits mass gatherings, and suspended classes in all levels.
Operations of transport facilities were also suspended and business establishments were ordered to close except those providing basic necessities and medical supplies.
In compliance with the memorandum, Lacwasan issued an administrative order mandating provincial government employees to  work from home.
In the new working arrangement, which took effect on March 17 until April 14, employees will not report to their offices but should make their lines open for any information that may be relayed or asked from them.
Failure to answer calls shall be considered as absence.
Exempted from the order are employees under the Provincial Security Office, provincial hospitals and Provincial Health Office, Provincial Veterinary Office, and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction  Management Office.
All municipalities in the province have also given out orders of the same nature in an effort to manage the spread of the Covid-19.
In Sagada, Mayor James Pooten required department heads to help in manning checkpoints.
In Bontoc, Mayor Franklin Odsey convened employees and representatives of concerned and asked for their understanding more particularly at the central barangays where most of the checkpoints have been setup.
Residents of the central barangays need a permit from their barangay chairs certifying the need of their travel outside their village before they will be allowed entry to other barangays.
Market vendors are also required to show proof of their business so they can enter the market.
Hospital authorities are also mandated to issue identification cards to watchers of patients.
So as not hamper the transport of basic commodities, businessmen are also required to secure permits from their mayors.
Those transporting goods within the province may secure permits from the office of their mayors while those travelling outside the province may get permit from the Office of the Governor.
Col. Crisante Sadino of the Provincial Police Office said he has directed municipal police offices to make available patrol cars that can be used to transport people who need immediate medical attention and for other emergency purposes. – Angel B. Baybay