PNP deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. (File photo)

MANILA – The Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) on Tuesday urged people who were stranded due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) not to immediately go back to their hometowns or visit their families once the ECQ is downgraded into general community quarantine (GCQ).

JTF CV Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, made this appeal as the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) remains high and that some of those eager to go home may unknowingly bring the disease to their towns and loved ones.

“There is already a guideline issued regarding our Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) so we encourage our kababayans to be aware and follow it because they may interpret the lifting of the ECQ as a go-signal for them to go back to their hometowns. We will not allow that,” Eleazar said in a statement.

He added that PNP chief, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, has already instructed all police commanders to coordinate with local government, especially at the barangay level, to determine the number of LSIs in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Gamboa also made it clear to the police commanders to make sure that all the processing of the certification and other documents needed for the travel of the LSIs are expedited.

“Our Chief PNP General Gamboa fully understands the situation of our kababayans who were stranded because of the ECQ implementation. As a family man himself, he knows how it feels to be away from your family this long so he made sure that our commanders would immediately attend to these requests to travel but subject to strict adherence to the protocols,” Eleazar said.

Under the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), those who want to go back to their hometowns must first secure a medical certificate from the health offices of the local government units where they were stranded that they are cleared of the coronavirus and that they underwent the necessary quarantine procedures.

After securing the certification, local officials of their hometowns must also provide a certification that they are accepting their returning constituents.

Once the two documents are complied with, these will be processed by the concerned police commanders for the issuance of travel authority.

The travel authority includes the date of travel, point of origin and destination, and name of driver and vehicles that will be used in the transport.

Eleazar said that if the area involved is within the province, the certification could be issued by the provincial commander; if the area involves two provinces within a region, the certification could be secured from the police regional director; and, if the areas involved two regions, the certification will come from the Director of the PNP Directorate for Operations.

The chiefs of police, city, and provincial directors and regional directors serve as the local commanders of the JTF CV Shield.

The JTF CV Shield is the enforcement arm of the IATF-EID. It is composed of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

For those who got infected with Covid-19 but were able to recover, Eleazar said they should test negative in at least two tests and should have undergone the necessary quarantine protocols before they are allowed to go back to their hometowns.

He explained they are implementing strict measures for the return of the LSI because in some cases, the virus carriers are asymptomatic and unknowingly spreading the coronavirus they are carrying. (with reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)