PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday called on the public to please bear with the temporary inconvenience they may encounter as police and military troops fully enforce a month-long ‘community quarantine’ in Metro Manila to prevent further spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas and the Armed Forces under Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. also have started fully enforcing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the metropolis as part of government measures to battle the virus. However, workers and those involved in the provision of essential services as well as residents getting groceries, food or medicines are exempted from the curfew.
“The bottom line is people are advised to stay home. Kung wala kang gagawin, just stay home,” said Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Unlike government checkpoints which usually mushroom in every election period, officers manning the checkpoints however will not only be sporting high-powered rifles but will most specifically be wearing face masks and equipped with other body protection they need in case they really encounter a COVID-19 carrier.
However, they will be guided by previous strict checkpoint guidelines issued to prevent possible abuses as they prevent the unauthorized entry of people to and from the metropolis.
The PNP says that all checkpoints must be situated in well-lit areas, with signage identifying the police and military unit manning the checkpoint as well as the name and contact number of the election supervisor in the area.
Soldiers and policemen manning the checkpoints are also required to be in complete uniform with the corresponding nameplate not being covered by a jacket. The uniformed policemen and soldiers are under strict instructions to be courteous to motorists at all times.
To avoid inconvenience and confusion, the PNP is advising motorists passing through checkpoints to observe the following:
When a motorist sees a checkpoint up ahead, slow down the vehicle before coming to a complete stop. At nighttime, dim the headlights as the vehicle approaches the checkpoint. Turn on the cabin lights, especially when the vehicle’s windows are tinted. Roll down the windows as the police start checking the occupants of the vehicle. The occupants are not obliged to alight from the vehicle.
Maj. Gen. Sinas said they will fully enforce the order of President Duterte and vowed to arrest people who will violate the quarantine law.
“Those who will violate the established quarantine procedures will be arrested and charged for violation of the Quarantine Law,” said the NCRPO chief. He added that they are also studying other provisions of the Revised Penal Code that will apply on the violators so that others will be served a lesson.
Sinas said that they also have to protect their officers in lieu of the fact that they would be dealing too with possible COVID-19 carriers. He cited the case of some San Juan City policemen who went after a suspected COVID-19 carrier the other day who fled on board her car while being accosted and went straight to St. Luke’s Global City where she was finally apprehended and taken to a Quezon City hospital after St. Luke’s refused to accept her.
The NCRPO chief said that they have required the San Juan City policemen to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine at the police station.
The PNP leadership has ordered all its personnel to bring their PNP Identification Card, Office ID and Letter Order for their PNP-issued firearms in anticipation of the movement of personnel and workers in reporting/transacting business or attending conferences to and from Camp Crame and other PNP offices /units within Metro Manila and other Police Regional Offices and National Support Units.
PNP Director for Personnel and Records Management director, Major Gen. Reynaldo G. Biay said police personnel are required to be in possession of the said documents to ensure passage during the implementation of the ‘Community Quarantine.’
Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brigadier Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr. on the other hand called on all Calabarzon residents to strictly follow the government order and undergo a ‘self-impose quarantine’ to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“In lieu of the coronavirus we are facing, PRO4A Team Calabarzon under my leadership will fully support the Community Quarantine that our national government will be implementing.
However, I encourage every citizen of Calabarzon to please implement a “self-imposed quarantine’ in order not to be affected and be able to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19,” Danao said.
“Let us strictly follow the national government’s pre- emptive measures and health advisories in order to be protected,” said the PRO4-A director as he called on Calabarzon residents to maintain their discipline in order to be protected from the deadly disease.