JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said that more than 300,000 quarantine violators have been apprehended in Metro Manila and other parts of the country since last March amid government efforts to restrict the unauthorized movement of people to help prevent the further spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The violators who were apprehended by JTF COVID Shield officers specifically those from the Philippine National Police on orders of PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa were either warned, fined and charged in court depending on the existing anti-COVID related ordinances enacted by local government units for use in the enforcement of quarantine rules.
Eleazar said the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases comes with the hike in the number of quarantine violators accosted for defying the rules against unnecessary travels and other non-compliance to the minimum health safety standard protocols such as wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing.
He added that they also continue to receive reports of violations of quarantine rules at the community level such as engaging in drinking sessions, holding and attending parties and other celebrations and even gambling.
“The success and failure of our fight against COVID-19 depends on the cooperation of our kababayan. The more they defy and challenge the rules set by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the more they make it difficult for our government to protect them,” the official said.
“On the part of the JTF COVID Shield, we will continue to maximize what we have to strictly enforce the quarantine rules because what is at stake here is the lives of the Filipino people and the fate of our country,” he added.
Based on the JTF COVID Shield data, a total of 308,859 have been apprehended from March 17 to August 10, or during the 147 days of the strict implementation of the quarantine rules. Of the figure, 47 percent or 146,012 of the offenders were warned; 25 percent or 77,190 were fined while the rest of the 28 percent were charged.
The number of the accosted violators further increased as the JTF COVID Shield included the data on violation on motorcycle pillion riding since July 10. Violators of motorcycle back-riding from July 10 to July 31, however, were just warned as they were given 22-days to comply with the motorcycle barrier requirement for pillion riding.
But since the rules on pillion riding were strictly implemented on August 1, a total of 16,927 were apprehended across the country, said Eleazar.
Due to the limited number of government law enforcers, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año supported the move to mobilize the barangay tanods and the Public Order and Safety personnel of the LGUs to augment the police and the military who are enforcing the quarantine rules.
“Ang susi ng pagpapatupad ng quarantine protocols ay nasa barangay talaga, walang iba,” said Sec. Año.