The lockdown left them behind: Tragic tales from the road after transport shutdown

March 17, 2020 - 10:46 PM
Homeless of Manila during the COVID-19 crisis
They have always been socially distant. The homeless sleep in streets on March 16, 2020, days after Metro Manila restricted travel and movement and encouraged people to stay home in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

A report on commuters being forced to run to cross checkpoints following the immediate implementation of the enhanced community quarantine reached Kapamilya actress Bela Padilla who did not like what she saw.

The 28-year-old actress shared a video from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter page that featured Filipinos trying to reach the border of Batasan, Quezon City and San Mateo, Rizal in a limited time shortly after the declaration of the quarantine.

Based on the report, members of the Philippine National Police gave them 30 minutes to cross the border before closing it as part of the enhanced community quarantine.

A whistle could be heard from the background, as well as voices barking orders to the commuters.

The video infuriated Padilla who retweeted it on her account with a comment.

“These people are tired from work!!! Nakakasama naman ng loob ‘to. Tsk. Kung nakikita na ng mata niyo na malapit na sila, kelangan pa ba talagang patakbuhin?!” she wrote.

Her sentiments were shared by other Filipinos who expressed their concerns on the comments thread.

“Galing na sila at pagod na sa trabaho, pagdating (diyan) tatakbo pa tsktsk,” an online user wrote.

“Asan ang malasakit sa kapwa dito? Malamang karamihan diyan mga gutom na pero ang mga sundalo, pinapanuod lang ang mga kapwa nila Pilipino…. anong klaseng serbisyo ‘yan? Tandaan niyo ‘yang pinapatakbo niyo, sa kanila galing ang sweldo niyo!” said another Filipino.

Struggle for commuters

The video was shared by ABS-CBN News at 5:34 p.m. on March 16, after presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire region of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine in a stricter bid to restrict movements amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under an enhanced community quarantine, Filipinos are not allowed to go out of their houses except when they are working in the health industry and sectors covering essential services like food, finance and telecommunication supplies, among others.

It also means stricter restrictions when it comes to land, air and sea travel. This includes suspension of mass public transport like the MRT, LRT, buses, jeepneys, transport network vehicle services and motorcycle taxis.

Only private vehicles are allowed on the road. Others are encouraged to walk.

Yesterday, however, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto temporarily allowed tricycles within his city to operate and service those reporting for duty, provided they follow guidelines on social distancing.

Similar reports of commuters struggling in their travels also gained traction on social media.

YouTuber AC Soriano retweeted a picture of Filipinos stranded in the boundary of Valenzuela and Meycauayan, Bulacan on March 17 after authorities closed off the border.

“Pauwiin niyo na sila. Parang awa niyo na. Lalo lang kakalat ang virus kung may isang infected diyan, lalong dadami ang infected,” Soriano wrote.

Another Twitter user retweeted the same picture with a different story.

“My mom called me last night ’cause she had to walk 8-10 kilometers from Valenzuela to Bancal kasi pauwi siya sa work tapos hinarang sila ng mga sundalo at pinababa. My mom was walking with an old lady who is 87-years-old carrying big bags, so my mom broke down crying,” the user wrote.

Another news outlet also shared a picture of a staff nurse who was left to walk for an hour yesterday because of the mass transport suspension.

Checkpoints and curfews have been lifted in Metro Manila since people are strictly expected to stay home.

Reuters reported that the enhanced community quarantine had left Filipinos “confused, confined and frustrated” as it was implemented after “just a few hours of warning.”

“With many unaware that half the population of 107 million had been told to stay home for a month, stranded workers crowded checkpoints on the edges of Manila as vehicles tried to duck suspensions and police impounded taxis that were still running,” the news agency reported.