The Palace said that food deliveries “must remain unhampered 24/7” after a video of a rider being apprehended for supposedly violating curfew hours in the Greater Manila Area gained traction online.
The area is currently under the stricter enhanced community quarantine which means only authorized persons outside of residence or APOR are the ones who can go out without being apprehended for violating stay-at-home orders.
On Wednesday, a viral video showed that a GrabFood rider was told off by checkpoint authorities when he attempted to deliver lugaw or rice porridge to a customer beyond curfew hours in Barangay Muzon, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
He was told that the food item is not considered among the essential goods. The officer added that people can “live without it” for a day.
The personnel in the checkpoint also read that food deliveries are allowed but insisted that a rice porridge is not considered an essential good.
Some Twitter users who also watched the video were puzzled over the apprehension of the delivery rider.
“Food is essential. TAPOS ‘YUNG LUGAW HINDI??? HINDI BA PAGKAIN ‘YON??? HAAAAAA???” an online user said in response to the clip.
“She totally said food is an essential but rice porridge isn’t?? The disrespect to lugaw indeed,” another Twitter user commented.
The video reached the Palace and a clarification was issued by its spokesperson, who also acts as the spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Lugaw, or any food item for that matter, is considered an essential good. Delivery of food items must remain unhampered 24/7. Huwag natin harangan sa checkpoints,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Under the advisory released by the Department of Trade and Industry in light of the ECQ implementation, food preparation establishments can operate “with full on-site capacity.”
These include commissaries, restaurants and eateries.
They are allowed to operate during ECQ provided that its services are “limited to take-out and delivery.”
Grab Philippines later on introduced a promo code that customers can use to get free delivery on their order after the incident.
“Let’s give thanks to all our Grab riders na tuloy lang sa paghatid ng ating essential needs! Saludo po kami sa inyo, kuyas and ates!” the company said in a social media post.
“Use LUGAWISESSENTIAL to get free delivery on your GrabFood order!” it added.
As of Wednesday evening, the keyword “lugaw” is leading the local Twitter’s top trending list, along with #LugawisEssential.