The Departments of Agriculture (DA) and Interior and Local Government (DILG) commited in front of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to further enhance checkpoint protocols to ensure the “unhampered movement” of food and agri-fishery products, inputs, and personnel.

The joint action followed after the reported distress in chicken supply, brought about by the difficulties agri-fishery cargoes experience in passing through the LGU level.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año agreed to the arrangement that checkpoint protocols at the municipal/city and barangay roads will be adjusted accordingly to ease the movement of agricultural products and commodities, as well as farmers and other agri-fishery personnel.

“Sec. Año understands the importance of bringing our food supply immediately to our consumers who need these products the most. The IATF has been supportive of this, and the entire DILG is our partner in the ground,” Dar said.

Since the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, the DA has been appealing to all local chief executives to let food, agri-fishery products, inputs, and personnel with proper documentation to easily pass through quarantine exit and entry points.

“We cannot overemphasize our battle against the potential hunger this pandemic is posing us. As much as we want to prepare for the worst, we also need all the hands we can get to prevent this from happening. So again, we need to achieve a smooth movement in the food value chain,” Dar added.

At present, the DA has issued around 48,000 food passes throughout the country to ease the checkpoint procedures for food and agri cargoes. However, some localities, especially at the municipal and barangay level, reportedly refuse to honor it.

With Secretary Año’s directives, and commitment to the IATF-EID, the DA expects to ease the burden of moving prime food supplies to, from, and passing through quarantine areas.

“This way, we can better provide more affordable and accessible food to our consuming public. We have the supplies, we just need to move them,” Dar said.

The IATF-EID has reaffirmed the DA recommendation to adopt as a national policy the unhampered movement of cargoes and workers in permitted establishments such as agriculture and food products, and their supply chain. The DILG will issue a new set of guidelines on checkpoints at the LGU level for the said purpose.

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