UPON instructions of Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, commandos from the elite PNP Special Action Force were deployed yesterday in at least 10 known ‘COVID-19 hotspots’ in Metro Manila or public markets where violations of the home quarantine and physical distancing are prevalent leading to the spread of the deadly virus.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar supervised the deployment of the SAF troopers, known to be the toughest and the strictest among all police personnel following instructions from Gen. Gamboa,
Eleazar said the PNP chief has ordered him to ensure that the guidelines of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus would be strictly enforced anytime, anywhere. Gen. Gamboa also approved the deployment of more policemen to enforce the ECQ rules and other protocols in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Metro Manila is where cases of COVID-19 is high and is also the area where violations of home quarantine are prevalent, said Eleazar. The SAF commandos will reinforce members of the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas in strictly enforcing the ‘lockdown’ in Metro Manila and going after ‘pasaways’ in public markets and other public places including those not wearing face masks and not following social distancing rules.
The Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said that initially, 116 SAF commanders on board six medium troop carries and six multi-purpose armored vehicles were deployed in the National Capital Region.
“Our SAF men have the authority to arrest violators of our ECQ guidelines so please do not test their patience. As I have stated before, there will be no double standard in the implementation of our ECQ so regardless of your social status, you will be arrested if you violate the home quarantine,” he added.
The official said that the SAF commandos were divided into 12 teams each composed of eight troopers who will man in particular public markets where violations of home quarantine and physical distancing are always observed based on intelligence reports, and monitored social media posts.
The public markets are those in Blumentritt in Sta. Cruz, Manila; Libertad in Pasay City; Pasig P Palengke; Napindan, Taguig City; Lower Bicutan, Taguig City; Public Market of Las Piñas City; North Caloocan; Alabang Public Market; Bagong Parañaque Public Market; and the Marikina Public Market.