PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has ordered all his commanders nationwide to work closely with local government units specifically barangay officials in their areas in fully enforcing President Duterte’s order to require all to wear face masks and observe social distancing amid the continuing threat of the deadly COVID-10 virus.
Gen. Gamboa earlier called on LGUs to pass their own ordinances which will require quarantine violators including those not wearing face masks in public, ignoring social distancing rules and defying curfew hours to pay fines and render community service so that police don’t have to haul them to already congested station jails.
According to Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, they are relying much on the help of Public Order and Safety Personnel of different LGUs and barangay security officers or ‘tanod’ in carrying out the minimum health safety protocols which were found to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
“LGUs down to the barangay level have been very helpful in crime prevention and in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, we in the JTF COVID Shield believe that their active participation is essential in our fight to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Eleazar.
The Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said the strategy is to tap the barangay tanod in the conduct of regular patrol in the alleys, streets and public places in their communities as a preventive measure against their constituents who would violate the minimum health safety protocols like unnecessary going out of houses, wearing of face masks when outside the house and observing proper physical distancing.
He added that the LGU’s Public Order and Safety personnel could augment the barangay ‘tanod’ in their areas in the enforcement of minimum health safety protocols in public areas in city and town proper such as public markets and other places of convergence.
Lt. Gen. Eleazar said the strict enforcement at the barangay level will support the move of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 for all LGUs to come up with a uniform ordinance on the observation of the minimum health safety protocols.
Officials explained that having a uniform ordinance relating to COVID-19 prevention is important in ensuring that the LGUs action against the spread of coronavirus synchronizes with the national policies especially those established by the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
Eleazar said that since police forces are not enough to guard every street of the country, the barangay tanod is of great help as force multipliers in the maintenance of peace and order.
And with the country under the threat of COVID-19, Eleazar said that the intensified visibility of barangay tanod in their respective communities is good deterrent against complacency of their respective constituents in complying with the minimum health safety protocols.
The official said he saw the active participation of barangay officials and tanod during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) when they themselves put up their own quarantine control points and were very active in implementing the quarantine rules.
But such active participation has gradually diminished when the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified GCQ were implemented.
“The number of COVID-19 cases are continuously rising and this is the time that we continuously work together to protect every community from the infection. We consider barangay tanod and all barangay officials as street front-liners along with the police, military and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Eleazar further explained that while the implementation of quarantine rules is challenging as more people are allowed to go out under GCQ and MGCQ, the strict implementation of local ordinances down at the barangay level will boost the enforcement of quarantine rules as local ordinances will serve as steps to compel people's conformity and cooperation.