Gamboa steps up foot, mobile patrols vs looters

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has ordered the entire police force to further step-up their foot and mobile patrols to prevent the possibility that some people affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and the rest of the country will resort to looting.

The PNP chief particularly instructed National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Debold M. Sinas to ensure that groceries, factories and warehouses with food stuff and other basic needs will be fully secured to preempt possible looting by hungry people.

The order was given amid information that poor people including transport drivers who have no more money and no means to feed their families would resort to looting and raid groceries and stores as well as factories and warehouses.

Gen. Gamboa instructed his men to preempt such possibility by conducting more foot and mobile patrols and seeing to it that loiterers and motorcycle-riding individuals would be accosted.

This amid calls from some individuals for the PNP leadership to farm out their troops to discourage any looting and violence that may be undertaken by people who are hungry and scared.

The PNP has laid out a series of elaborate plans to secure the country in the aftermath of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and the rest of the country. Part of it is the monitoring of incidents of profiteering, panic-buying, hoarding and looting and fully securing critical areas such as food supply chains, food hubs, warehouses, main supply routes, banks and delivery of services.

Sinas said that in Metro Manila, they have likewise intensified their anti-criminality campaign and monitoring of plans and activities of organized crime groups and other lawless elements.

The PNP is guarding against the possibility of mass actions and violent actions from people whose movement is being restricted to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

This is part of their effort to preserve peace and order in the country, said the NCRPO director.

Sinas has also ordered the strict enforcement of all city and municipal ordinances specifically drinking, gambling and smoking in public and the curfew hours as part of their ‘social distancing’ program.

Since the week started, dozens of people drinking in public have been apprehended by NCRPO agents and are still waiting for inquest fiscals who will rule on their cases.

He also called on the public to avoid spreading ‘fake news’ about the COVID-19 virus and its ensuing effect on peace and order saying the act is punishable by law.

Sinas said that major crime incidents in Metro Manila has gone down by as much as 80 percent since they enforced the  Enhanced Community Quarantine last week with hundreds of checkpoints set up in the metropolis to help arrest the spread of the deadly virus,

"Malaki po talaga,  80 percent po ang ibinaba ng crimes.  Indeed, there is a massive decrease, a massive reduction. We are observing it kasi nga walang tao sa kalye, walang ganon pero despite of everything nanghuhuli pa rin 'yung tao natin ng mga nang-aabuso para po mapigilan sila,"the Metro Manila police chief said in comparing their statistics this month to the same period last year.

Sinas said that apart from the heavy presence of the police and the military in the streets, majority of the public in Metro Manila seems to have obeyed calls on them by the government to just stay home so that they won’t catch the virus and become carriers of the highly-communicable disease.

However, Sinas said they are not lowering their guards down and are seeing to it that criminality will be further reduced in the metropolis since there will always be a possibility that criminals will always be taking advantage of any opportunity given to them.

"Despite na naggagawa tayo ng quarantine, may mangilan-ngilan  pa rin na gumagawa ng hindi mabuti but we assure you, mababa po talaga ang crime natin,” said the official.

Specifically, incidents of rape, motorcycle and motor vehicle theft and robbery-holdups have gone down in Metro Manila since the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces started putting up Quarantine Control Points of QCPs as part of the government measure versus COVID-19.