Gamboa sees longer lockdown duties after April 30 ECQ deadline

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa is expecting an extended police lockdown operation for possible selective community quarantine in some parts of Metro Manila and the rest of the country after April 30 as the country still hopes for a real antidote to the deadly COVID-19 virus in order to lift the nationwide lockdown.

“”From here, the way forward in my analysis is for us to expect a longer operation period in our law enforcement and public safety functions beyond April 30 for possible selective quarantine in some areas. Until such time we shall be able to rotate more personnel for frontline duty,” the PNP chief said via livestream from his office in Camp Crame where he ended his 14-day self-quarantine Tuesday after possible exposure to the virus due to the nature of his work.

In his report to the nation and the national police force, the top cop said he will be fully complying with President Duterte’s recent order which effectively bars the presence of Unauthorized Persons Outside of Residence during the Enhanced Community Quarantine period with the end in view of directing all unauthorized persons to stay home.

Gen. Gamboa said that the PNP will also enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing;  ensure the protection and  give assistance, security and safe passage for all healthcare workers; effect the arrest of perpetrators of acts violence, discrimination and oppression committed on healthcare workers and COVID-19 victims and their families; and  last but not the least, ensure the unhampered passage of all essential cargo and commuter transport of front-liners in Quarantine Control Points.

On Tuesday night, agents of the PNP Highway Patrol Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz began inspecting private vehicles along EDSA and other major thoroughfares in Metro Manila to determine whether their drivers and passengers belong to the list of Authorized Persons Outside of Residence or APORs or not.

Cruz said that in the event the driver or any of his/her passenger is found to be not included in the APOR list, he/she will be issued a Temporary Operator’s Permit and Official Violation Receipt from either the Land Transportation Office or the Metro Manila Development Authority as ordered by Joint Task Force COVID Shield chief, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar.

Gen. Gamboa extended the deepest gratitude of the national leadership for their men’s “unwavering support and sacrifices in performing the PNP mission to assume law enforcement and public safety duties in this whole of nation battle with an unseen enemy.”

“As a member of the IATF-MEID, I am witness to the hardships of our men and women in uniform who endure long hours at work in the field, away from the comforts of their home and family, and uncertain of the fate that awaits them at the frontline.

But needless to say, each and every member of the police force knows by heart the reason why we need to pass this way-- because it is a professional calling and a sworn responsibility to serve, bestowed upon us by the people,” he said.

Gen. Gamboa commended the Joint Task Force COVID Shield which greatly helped to sustain the early gains of the ECQ in Luzon and other parts of the country. He said that over the past three weeks, more than 100,000 ECQ violators have been rounded up mostly in Luzon, the violators either warned, fined, and charged in court.

He added that 680 unscrupulous traders during the period were also arrested for price control and fair trade violations while some 8,000 public transport drivers were apprehended for violating the ban on mass transport.

“When this crisis is over, they will endure further the agony of judicial process later, but only because we cannot afford to add to the congestion of our jail facilities at this time,” he assured the public.

Gen. Gamboa admitted that what was initially proposed as a community quarantine covering Metro Manila was supposed to end on Tuesday, had it not been overtaken by the turn of events that made it urgently necessary to expand the duration and scope of the community quarantine and enhance its implementation across Luzon until April 30.

“This only goes to show that in this battle, we do not make the timeline, rather it is the virus that makes the timeline, and the best that we can do for the meantime is to manage the situation,” he said.

The PNP chief said President Duterte sees it “as an act of providence that the uniformed services were given a morale-boosting pay-hike years ahead-- even before we were sent to battle, and with a sustaining package of cash and non-cash benefits to boot.”