THE Joint Task Group COVID Shield has noted a great reduction in the number of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) violators in 10 public markets in Metro Manila amid the deployment of elite soldiers and policemen in these areas, a senior Philippine National Police official said yesterday.
Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said the presence of fully-armed commandos from the PNP Special Action Force as well as Armed Forces personnel and agents of the PNP Highway Patrol Group in the known COVID-19 ‘hot spots’ have been reduced by almost half amid the fielding of additional troops.
The stepped-up ECQ implementation came amid the frustration aired by President Duterte over the continuous violation of ECQ guidelines especially in Luzon. The violations of home quarantine mostly happened at the barangay level, especially in public markets and other places of convergence.
This prompted PNP chief, Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and AFP chief of staff, Gen. Felimon Santos, Jr. to order the deployment of more troops to strictly implement the quarantine rules.
Specifically, Gen. Gamboa wanted policemen to refrain from warning the violators and instead, immediately arrest and charge them.
Gen. Eleazar said since last Friday, all the violators were either arrested or fined. From Friday to Saturday, he said a total of 3,299 violators were reported— 2,231 of them were arrested and charged while 1,068 were fined.
The violators were apprehended for violating the curfew hours, liquor ban, not wearing face masks and other quarantine protocols.
Eleazar said the presence of SAF commandos and soldiers riding armored personnel carriers and patrolling the streets of Metro Manila and nearby areas were felt starting last April 21.
It was the day Eleazar and PNP-SAF director, Major Gen. Amado Clifton B. Empiso led the inspection of police commandos deployed in at least 10 public markets in the National Capital Region where violations of home quarantine are high.
In the provinces, more policemen and soldiers were also tapped to secure various communities where violations are high based on the comparative data being sent daily by local police commanders.
According to Eleazar, a total of 3,314 ECQ violators were apprehended across the country last April 21 while the number went down to 3,306 the following day.
However, last April 23, he said they recorded a steep decline as only 1,585 violators were reported nationwide specifically in Luzon where most of the SAF troopers and AFP personnel were deployed.
From a total of 2,313 violators reported in Luzon on April 22, the figure went down to more than half, or 1,152 violators, the official said
Since April 23 up to April 25, Eleazar said the number of violators no longer breach the 2,000 mark— 1,488 violators were reported on April 24, and 1,811 on April 25.
“We attribute this significant decrease in the number of violators recorded in the past few days to stricter implementation of the ECQ Guidelines through the deployment of our SAF troopers and soldiers and also when our HPG personnel started running after private vehicles,” he said.
“We are monitoring the situation on the ground on a daily basis in order to make immediate and necessary security adjustments in any area where any increase of ECQ violators were monitored,” he added.
The JTF COVID Shield is currently waiting for specific guidelines that would be implemented for the areas that would be under the ECQ extension and the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) following President Duterte’s order to extend the anti-COVID measures until May 15, said Eleazar.