THE number of Enhanced Community Quarantine violators over the past two weeks is now nearing 70,000 as police continue to ensure that unauthorized persons will stay in their homes, the head of the Joint Task Force COVID-19 said yesterday.
According to Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Operations Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the number of quarantine violators as of yesterday was pegged at 69,089, of which 38,940 are from Luzon while the rest are from different parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
Eleazar said that of the total number, 17,039 were arrested and charged in court while 3,777 were ordered to pay fines. Another 48,273 were sent home after being documented and given stern warning they would be charged if apprehended for the second time.
Many of those charged were accused of disobeying orders and resisting arrest by agents of a person in authority while being accosted by officers manning Community Control Points or by barangay authorities who accosted them while either drinking in public, violating the curfew hours or other city and municipal ordinances.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has approved a recommendation of the Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield to arrest, detain and charge violators of the curfew as part of their effort to prevent the presence of unauthorized persons on the streets who could help spread the deadly virus.
Eleazar said the action is needed amid the growing number of curfew violators which has been pegged at nearly 43,000 as of yesterday, with the number expected to further grow in the coming days unless concrete actions are taken to stop unauthorized persons from leaving their homes.
Eleazar said that Gen. Gamboa has approved their recommendations following talks with Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
However, he stressed that the rights of those who will be apprehended will be fully respected by the police.
The JTF CV Shield task force recommendations including the need to coordinate with local chief executives the identification of temporary detention centers big enough to observe social distancing for arrested curfew violators.
Another is the need for the PNP to coordinate with local chief executives specifically mayors and barangay captains the proper disposition of arrested curfew violators based on the penalties stipulated in the LGU’s ordinances.
Eleazar said that they likewise recommended that if the curfew violators are released with cases to be filed after the Enhanced Community Quarantine, the offenders must be held for a maximum of 12 hours so they will not repeat the offense.
And lastly, he said that they have ordered all police units to fully observe the human rights of the curfew violators and that they shall not be subjected to any kind of physical punishment.
“Our message to the public is clear, we will continue to arrest any person who will violate the curfew,” said Lt Gen. Eleazar.