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EDSA-Balintawak going NLEX gridlocked on 1st day of MECQ

Motorists in the gridlock along EDSA-Balintawak northbound section were stuck in more than an hour-long standstill going to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) past 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday was the first day of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) being implemented in many cities and provinces in the country including Metro Manila.

Some motorists stuck in the gridlock told GMA News they did not mind the traffic, a first after two months of lockdown.

All of them took advantage of the slightly eased movement restrictions after two months in lockdown to return to their provinces.

But not everyone managed to go home.

Turning right from EDSA Balintawak, Quezon City police marshaled vehicles going to A. Bonifacio Avenue, segregating them by vehicle type.

Cargo and delivery trucks that cannot be controlled or hampered in any form of quarantine were pointed to proceed using the right lane that moved non-stop.

It was a different story for private vehicles that were told to proceed to the leftmost lane.

Personnel from the Highway Patrol Group and Quezon City police installed a checkpoint along NLEX-Camachile, right under the Unang Sigaw footbridge to check who could be allowed to proceed on their way out of Metro Manila and who must be turned back.

Under existing MECQ guidelines, only Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR), either with a RapidPass, an IATF-issued ID, or a company ID, are allowed to go on "essential movement."

In the case of the checkpoint at NLEX-Camachile, motorists who did not have a RapidPass or any other proof that they were APORs were asked for a travel pass or travel clearance issued either by their local government or police district of origin.

A checkpoint patrol team member told GMA News that for motorists who intended to leave Metro Manila to attend to reopening business outside the region must show a copy of their business permit.

Without any of these documents, he said, motorists cannot yet leave Metro Manila and must go back.

From 1 p.m. to around 3 p.m., no less than five vehicles were stopped and made to turn back for having none of the required travel documents.

One of them was a jeepney driver with his family intending to return home to Pampanga after their house burned down in Tanza, Navotas last week and had to sleep inside their passenger jeep for days.

"Doon ho muna kami kasi wala pa kaming matulugan, tapos mga 2 o 3 araw babalik din kami sa palengke sa Balintawak," Zambrano said.

Minutes after, police flagged another vehicle, this time an AUV carrying six passengers.

The driver of the vehicle told police he was bringing his sibliing back home to Nueva Ecija but when police found out other passengers came from Pasay, Quezon City and Makati without travel passes or clearances, they decided to issue the driver a violation ticket for transporting non-authorized persons out of residence and having excess passengers in his vehicle.

IATF guidelines mandate that there can only be two persons per row in a private car, or no more than four people in a sedan.

Traffic eased up in the area around 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. - MDM, GMA News