JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday batted anew for a much stricter enforcement of quarantine rules in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal which have been reverted back to a General Community Quarantine status.
According to the official, the strict enforcement of quarantine rules was found to be effective in containing the spread of the coronavirus, citing the case in Cebu City where the high infection rate was addressed when stricter rules were enforced with the deployment of additional policemen and soldiers who compelled local residents to behave.
However, he admitted that due to the limited number of police and military personnel to cover the entire country, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces need all the help they can get from barangay officials whom he said must step up their efforts by mobilizing their respective barangay tanod for community-level enforcement of minimum health standard protocols such as wearing of face masks, observing physical distancing and prohibition of mass gathering.
“This is the part where the Local Government Units (LGUs) down to the barangay level should come up with their respective ordinances relating to the strict implementation of quarantine rules that include curfew and the mandatory compliance to the minimum health safety standard protocols in order for their constituents to be forced to comply and likewise synchronize with the efforts of the national government to contain the spread of this deadly virus,” said Eleazar.
“While your policemen and soldiers are doing their best to enforce the quarantine rules at the expense of being infected, we cannot rely solely on the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines because of the limited manpower and resources. The lack of manpower and resources to cover the entire country could be well filled up by the more than 42,000 barangays in the country which have their own respective security forces through the barangay tanod,” he added.
Eleazar said that the active participation and cooperation by the barangay officials and the LGUs will play a key role in terms of containing the unnecessary movement of people and blatant violations of quarantine rules that regularly happen in the streets and corners of the barangays.
He said that in Metro Manila, Highly-Urbanized Cities and other densely-populated areas in the country, concerned barangay officials would have a better way of crafting strategies and enforcement of quarantine rules since they are familiar with the behavior of the residents and are always aware as to where the violations regularly occur.
Eleazar stressed the need for the government to retain the strict implementation of the quarantine rules especially that more people would be allowed to go out as more industries are allowed to operate under the GCQ and the Modified GCQ.
“Our personnel on the ground have been considerate for more than 150 days now since March 17. By this time, our kababayan should have already adjusted to the new norms on public health so they must follow the rules now,” he explained.
“Violators should no longer be warned and excuses should no longer be entertained because public health is at stake. If they violate the rules, then they should be prepared for the consequences of their actions whatever the quarantine status is,” he stressed.
The official said that even the LGUs wanted the strict implementation of the quarantine rules due to the continuous rise in the cases of the killer virus.
Part of the strict measures that should be continuously enforced is to maintain the Quarantine Control Points (QCPs) which will be reinforced by modified checkpoints or random checkpoints, regular beat patrol to enforce curfew and observation of minimum health safety protocols and the mobilization of the barangay tanod and LGUs’ Public Order and Safety personnel to augment the police and soldiers in the implementation of quarantine rules.
Based on the JTF COVID Shield data, a total of 324,867 people were apprehended across the country for violation of quarantine rules March 17 to August 16. Of the figure, a total of 147,899 of them, or 45%, were just warned while the rest were either fined or charged.
Emphasizing the importance of the barangays in the fight against COVID-19, Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and Eleazar have tasked all police commanders across the country early this month to mobilize barangay tanods in the implementation of minimum health standard protocols.
Police Quarantine Rules Supervisors (QRS) were assigned in every barangay of the country to supervise the barangay tanods in the implementation of quarantine rules. The Public Order and Safety personnel of the Cities and Municipalities were also tapped to do the same at least in city and town proper where public markets, business establishments and other places of convergences are located, Eleazar said.
Police commanders were also ordered to activate and regularly monitor their respective hotlines and social media accounts and encourage residents in their Areas of Responsibility to lodge complaint and report quarantine violations for immediate response of the local police in coordination with the concerned QRS and barangay tanod.
“We in the JTF COVID Shield believe that prevention through strict enforcement of quarantine rules is part of the medical solution against COVID-19. And we can only succeed in this effort if the national government and the LGUs, especially the barangay officials, would effectively work together to ensure that all people should comply with the quarantine rules,” said Eleazar.