PNP-HPG means business on EDSA, other major NCR thoroughfares

WITH their shining boots, well-ironed uniform and distinctive Stetson hats, highly-trained officers and men of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group are proving they can really restore discipline on EDSA where they have launched a crackdown on motorists violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine and social distancing ordered by the government.

Last week, pistol-packing Riders and mobile crews from the PNP-HPG led by Brigadier General Eliseo DC Cruz flagged down over 70 drivers of different motor vehicles on EDSA and with the help of the Metro Manila Development Authority and Land Transportation Office, issued them traffic citation tickets for violating the home quarantine and social distancing measures.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. last Wednesday, 38 drivers were flagged down by PNP-HPG and MMDA operatives in EDSA followed by another 33 violators from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. of the same day, said Cruz.

As a result, EDSA was cleared of Unauthorized Persons Outside of Residence that day and the PNP leadership headed by General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa said they expect the situation to continue until the present crisis is over.

PNP-HPG operatives also led the way in apprehending nearly 9,300 drivers of Public Utility Vehicles for violating the prohibition on public transport since the start of the ECQ period.

Cruz said he has ordered his men to be very strict in enforcing the home quarantine and social distancing rules on private vehicles. “If there is at least one UPOR (Unauthorized Persons Outside of Residence) as passenger or the only occupant is the driver but he is also UPOR, we will arrest him,” said the PNP-HPG director.

The commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said they are all ready to fully comply with  President Duterte and Gen. Gamboa’s instructions.

“We understand the frustration on the part of President Rodrigo Duterte because despite knowing the danger of COVID-19 and repeated warnings, a lot of people continue to find ways and make excuses to violate the home quarantine and physical distancing rules,” he said.

“The President and his crisis managers are in better position to plan and implement measures that are best for the country, for every Filipino,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Eleazar, also the PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, said that since last March 17, PNP and JTF COVID Shield personnel have already accosted over 128,000 curfew and ECQ violators across the country and likewise apprehended drivers of Public Utility Vehicles violating the public transport ban.

“We have been continuously monitoring the situation on the ground, the reason why more policemen and force multipliers were deployed inside and outside public markets to ensure that social distancing is observed; and recently, set up mobile checkpoints and deploy motorcycle-riding policemen on EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila immediately after we noticed the sudden influx of private vehicles on the roads,” the official said.

“While the situation has improved, there are still some people who violated the rules and even went to the extent of engaging in illegal cockfighting and drinking session. The JTF COVID Shield, composed of the PNP, Armed Forces, Philippine Coast Guard and the  Bureau of Fire Protection is ready for any scenario and is always ready to comply with the President's order.

We have various contingency plans in every quarantine level-- ready to be implemented anywhere and anytime,” Eleazar said.

PNP spokesman, Brig.Gen. Bernard M. Banac said all violators were either arrested, fined and warned, but all of them were properly documented for direct filing of charges in court later when the ECQ is eventually lifted.

On orders of Gen. Gamboa, the PNP-HPG set up mobile checkpoints in Metro Manila and other major thoroughfares in Metro Manila to run after drivers violating the home quarantine and social distancing in private vehicles.

Eleazar said their ‘Oplan Habol’ specifically target drivers of private vehicles who are not Authorized Persons Outside of Residence during the Enhanced Community Quarantine or are wantonly violating the social distancing inside private cars by having two or more passengers.