If ordered by Duterte, PNP fully prepared to enforce total lockdown –Gamboa

ALL police preparations are already in place for an extended and much tougher Enhanced Community Quarantine and all the Philippine National Police leadership is waiting for is the go-signal from President Duterte, the Journal Group was told yesterday.

PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa also assured the public that quarantine violators will get their day in court once the situation normalizes. He emphasized that police will ensure a ‘certainty of punishment’ for people who completely ignored quarantine rules and engaged in public drinking or illegal gambling or violated curfew hours and even resisted arrest by authorities.

“The Philippine National Police stands squarely in support of President Rodrigo R Duterte’s intention to decisively enforce a total lockdown for the entire period under Enhanced Community Quarantine,” said General Gamboa as he expressed the PNP’s preparedness to place Luzon and other parts of the country in  total lockdown to stop the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PNP chief has ordered the creation of a body to manage police resources and supplies in the event the lockdown period is extended by the President.  Gen. Gamboa said the PNP Administrative Support to CoVid-19 Operations Task Force (ASTF) was activated to ensure efficient delivery of administrative support to ongoing operations of Joint Task Force CV Shield.

PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lieutenant Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan was named as ASTF commander with Major Gen. Cesar Hawthorne R. Binag, the PNP Chief Directorial Staff as his assistant task force commander.

Gen. Gamboa said the ASTF was created to manage local health emergency issues in Luzon and other areas during the extended ECQ. “We are preparing our optimum and efficient management, distribution and utilization of resources and supply chain for the long haul,” the PNP chief said.

According to the top cop, some local government executives have already aired support to more radical proposals to impose tougher measures against violators of the ECQ.

“Maybe some violators feel they can get away with our enforcement of quarantine rules and local ordinances, but only because we are not under ideal conditions to detain all law offenders, except to complete the mandatory requirements of documentation and booking.

Trust me, their brush with the law today will not go unpunished. There will be a day of reckoning for all lawbreakers when we shall find the appropriate time to directly file criminal charges in court to begin their agony of criminal prosecution,” Gen. Gamboa said.

The PNP chief likewise explained that they have reacted with compassion to certain situations involving people’s need for food and basic necessities and will continue to be reasonable and fair along this matter.

“But because so many people are willfully violating government orders to remain indoors, their bold acts of disobedience are making containment efforts against the virus less effective.  Worse and more troublesome for the police, it is taking its toll on police personnel manning the Quarantine Control Points who risk exposure to unusually heavy crowding of unauthorized persons.,” he said.

As of last Saturday, there are already a total of 67 police personnel who have been afflicted by COVID-19.  According to PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac,  a total of 737 PNP personnel are undergoing treatment or  being monitored for COVID-19. They included 593 Suspected Persons Under Investigation; 74 Probable PUIs; and the 67 Confirmed COVID-19 positive personnel.

So far, eight police personnel have recovered from the deadly virus while three died after contracting the disease.