POLICE are fully enforcing President Duterte’s order to accost community quarantine violators specifically those who are not wearing face masks and violating social distancing and curfew hours amid the government’s continuing fight against the killer COVID-19 virus, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Since last week, agents of the National Capital Region Police Office under Major General Debold M. Sinas have apprehended hundreds of quarantine violators, mostly those who were found violating city ordinances regarding the mandatory wearing of face masks and social distancing as well as curfew hours.
Hundreds of apprehensions have also been recorded in all other cities and municipalities in the other regions which are still under Enhanced Community Quarantine, Modified ECQ or General Community Quarantine, said PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa.
According to Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, nearly 240,000 violators of curfew hours and showing disobedience to authorities enforcing quarantine rules were apprehended and warned by authorities from March 17 to last week.
Around 45,000 were fined; over 18,000 were detained and inquested while more than 56,000 others were released for regular filing. Due to lack of custodial facilities, majority of those apprehended were freed after booking and documentation prior to the filing of charges against them.
President Duterte earlier called on the police to arrest and subsequently detain those who will not wear a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have no qualms in arresting people who are not wearing face mask. It seems to be trivial, but during a time of pandemic, it can be a serious crime. You are transmitting virus, you are a carrier,” Duterte said.
The President ordered Gen. Gamboa to be more strict in enforcing the quarantine rules even as he said that local chief executives have to do more about the matter since strict enforcement of all rules start with local government units.
Gen. Gamboa said they have been instructed by Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año to fully enforce the law.
“Tapos na yung time na we should be tolerant about this, pinapatawad natin. Good enough na me LGUs na me ordinances to enact quarantine laws, na very immediate ang execution ng punishment like rendering of community service or fine of P1,000 or P2,000,” he said.
The top cop said they need the full support of mayors and barangay captains in enforcing quarantine rules in order to avoid further clogging the country’s jails since persons apprehended and charged for quarantine violations would end up being locked up in police custodial facilities before being transferred to Bureau of Jail and Management Penology-supervised jails where they will be held pending their posting of bail.
“Kaya nakikiusap kami sa publiko, sana wag kayong pasaway. This is not only for the good of a few people, this is for the good of all. This is for the good of the entire country at nakikita naman natin kung papano kumakalat ang virus,” Gen. Gamboa said.
“Let’s do our respective role. Kasi nga pati ang Presidente natin, nafu-frustrate na din (sa katigasan ng ulo ng maraming tao). Dapat isapuso natin. This is pangkalahatan. Dapat enough na to na education sa publiko na sumunod sa quarantine laws at tingnan natin na mas malawak kung ano ang magiging epekto sa pangkalahatan. Simply put, please follow basic health protocols in your community,” he said.
Gen. Gamboa has also ordered the designation of a policeman as a ‘quarantine rules supervisor’ in more than 42,000 barangays in the country to help strictly enforce President Duterte’s order for a mandatory wearing of face masks and observance of social distancing to fight COVID-19.
The PNP chief’s order was issued as Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Eleazar pushed for a ‘community-level enforcement’ of the quarantine rules.
According to Eleazar, the police supervisor for every barangay will act as the team leader of the barangay security officers, locally known as barangay ‘tanod’ in the enforcement of the minimum health safety protocols at the community level.
“The presence of policemen is not only a proven crime deterrent but also compels civilians to behave. In this time of pandemic when compliance to the minimum health safety protocols is a must to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we need to make the presence of the police in the barangay to ensure that the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is enforced properly and strictly,” he said.
Based on the complaints and reports being received by the JTF COVID Shield, local residents have started being complacent on the health safety protocols since the quarantine restrictions were eased in almost all parts of the country.
Residents at the barangay level have been reportedly shunning the use of face mask and have started converging again for a drinking session and even for gossiping.