Alarmed by the increasing number of people in the town center, the municipal government of Virac has moved to limit the number of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) passes issued to households in the 63 barangays.
In an urgent meeting called by Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr., barangay captains from the 63 barangays, together with representatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) agreed to the proposal of Virac police chief Maj. Bon Billy Timuat to issue a limited number of quarantine passes per barangay.
The police officer disclosed that the use of passes were being misused or exploited by household recipients, defeating the very purpose of the Stay-at-Home strategy against COVID-19.
He said that in the past week, many people were observed at the town center that the required social distancing could no longer be observed.
It was proposed that certain days of the week be set aside for certain barangays or districts to go out and buy essential goods on limited window hours but this was set aside in favor of the issuance of a limited number of quarantine passes or certifications to be issued by the police through the barangay chairman or, in case of large barangays, through barangay kagawads.
In small barangays, only 12 such ECQ passes or certifications will be issued, with 10 to be released to those who need to buy essential goods in the poblacion and the other two kept for emergency cases.
Those requesting use of the pass will have to inform the barangay of their purpose, with the details entered into a logbook. Use of the pass will be good for three hours at most and must be returned to the barangay at the end of the period.
All ECQ passes issued by the 63 barangays will be automatically considered cancelled and invalid once the PNP has issued the new certification or pass to the barangays. Barangays will be given the discretion to allow which member of the household will be given the pass.
If the bearer of the certication or pass fails to return the document on time or violates the given time frame, his violation will be “booked” for the filing of the appropriate charges.
It was also agreed that barangays will have at least one designated tricycle or vehicle to bring those with certifications or passes to their destinations in the poblacion.
The participants also decided that to better implement the new scheme, entrance and exit points will be designated in each barangay to be manned by tanods and volunteers, while the other roads will be blocked off or barricaded to prevent residents from going out.
The barangay chairpersons were supposed to issue respective executive orders covering the rerouting of traffic within their jurisdictions and indicating the entrance and exit points last Sunday, a day before the new ECQ Pass scheme took effect on April 5, 2020.