Quarantine violators have to face brunt of law- Gamboa

FILIPINOS who have repeatedly ignored quarantine protocols will have to bear the brunt of law once the COVID-19 crisis is over since the Philippine National Police are intent on ensuring they will get a ‘certainty of punishment’ for violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine, PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa said yesterday.

Apart from ordering a strict enforcement of the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and other ‘high-risk’ areas as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the PNP chief said there will be no more warning for violators of the ‘lockdown’ and all offenders will be placed under arrest and inquested for violation of the law.

The PNP chief emphasized that “these violations carry with it appropriate penalties and fines, but, what will be more burdensome for violators are the tedious judicial process and the implications of a Derogatory Record to their personal criminal profile.”

Having a criminal record means an individual won’t be able to get a PNP or a National Bureau of Investigation clearance which are requirements for employment or travel abroad.

Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said in compliance with orders from Gen. Gamboa and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año, they have started implementing a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on violators of quarantine protocols specifically curfew hours.

The official said the intensified ECQ implementation has been reinforced with deployment of more policemen on the streets to arrest violators of not only home quarantine but also those who do not observe social distancing and do not wear face mask.

According to the official, the stricter rules and deployment of more soldiers and policemen on the streets resulted in the sharp increase of the number of violators arrested last Friday.

“From the average of 24.17  arrested violators in the first 39 days of the ECQ implementation, our record on (April 24) was at 73.79 percent,” he said.

Eleazar explained that while there were a total of 145,940 violators reported from March 17 to April 24, only 35,270 of them, or 24.17 percent were actually arrested while 103,781, or 71.11 percent were just warned and allowed to go mostly for humanitarian consideration.

The remaining 6,889 violators, or 4.72 percent were fined since there are ordinances of the Local Government Units which include imposing fine as a form of sanction especially for first time violators.

Last Friday, he said a total of 1,488 violators were reported across the country. Of the figure, 1,098, or 73.79 percent were arrested while the remaining 390, which represents 26.21 percent of the total number of violators for the day were fined.

“The increase on the number of violators arrested can be attributed to our zero tolerance policy, meaning, not a single violator was warned on April 24. They were either arrested or fined,” he said.

“As such, this serves as a warning to all that your JTF COVID Shield, your policemen and your soldiers, are no longer warning violators. They arrested all the violators and they will continue to do so,” he added.