Gamboa appeals for public cooperation, apologizes for temporary inconvenience

March 18, 2020
Archie Francisco F. Gamboa

PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday reiterated his appeal to the public to fully cooperate with security forces as they implement the enhanced community quarantine all over Luzon adding that all hitches will be addressed fully in the next coming days.

“We reiterate our call to our countrymen in provinces and cities in Luzon to please cooperate with authorities in managing this national emergency. As WHO and DOH experts have already concluded based on the experience of other countries that have successfully contained COVID-19, there is no other way but for everyone to stay home. This is one big sacrifice we must do as a nation to survive this crisis,” said the PNP chief.

On the 2nd day of the community quarantine, police and military troops put up more checkpoints in Luzon and restricted entry into the North and South Luzon Expressways allowing only health workers, supermarket employees, food deliveries, those with health emergencies and flight schedule to pass.

The “lockdown” was tightened at checkpoints at the border of San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan and Caloocan City to prevent the entry of unauthorized people into the metropolis.

Highly optimistic that the country will overcome the threat of the deadly COVIC-19 virus, Gen. Gamboa extended the commendation of the national leadership and the gratitude of the nation to all those who heeded earlier calls to stay indoors and limit non-essential movement and travel.

“We beg your kind indulgence that we are doing all these measures in haste because we really need to act fast. But be assured that we will straighten out and fine tune all details as we finalize the implementing guidelines,” he said.

The PNP chief added that “major adjustments will be made by the concerned Police Regional Offices to cope with the contingency and accomplish the objective to limit movement of people and human traffic to win over this pandemic.”

Gen. Gamboa said that all six Luzon-based Police Regional Offices outside Metro Manila have been placed on full alert since last Friday and ready to help the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas in enforcing a metro-wide community quarantine.

He explained that in fact, “the Luzon-wide community quarantine strategy to contain the spread of Covid-19 has been operationalized better under these conditions of operational readiness of PNP units, personnel and resources when these Regional Offices enforced the enhanced community quarantine in their respective regional jurisdictions effective past midnight last night, March 17, 2020 .”

The order will be fully implemented across Luzon until April 13.   

Even before the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine was fully enforced, Gen. Gamboa said that the PNP had already put up 773 community quarantine stations in Northern Luzon, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol regions.

These stations are being manned by a total of 4,374 PNP personnel who are being supported by members of the Armed Forces and the Coast Guard.

In Central Visayas, Police Regional Office 7 director, Brigadier Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro said that at least 80 local policemen have been tagged as ‘Persons of Interest’ for COVID-19 and are now undergoing home quarantine.

The policemen came from Manila and Negros Island with 42 of them reporting straight to the Regional Health Service 7 for check-up. The rest are scheduled for a medical checkup yesterday.

Ferro said that the 42 who were checked on Monday did not show any flu-like symptoms but nevertheless were told to undergo home quarantine.

On Monday evening, President Duterte placed the entire Luzon region under enhanced community quarantine and suspended all  modes of transportation including public transport.

However, private establishments providing basic needs and activities related to food and medicine production will still be open. The exempted private facilities include: ”public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities.”