IN COMPLIANCE with directives from Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, members of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield have started implementing a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on violators of quarantine protocols specifically curfew hours, the head of the task force said yesterday.
According to Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, they have started the new policy as part of their intensified security measures vis-à-vis with the extension of the implementation of the home quarantine in Metro Manila and other COVID-19 ‘high-risk areas’ in the country.
“This means that violators will no longer be warned and be given consideration and instead, will immediately be arrested and charged,” he said.
The official said the intensified ECQ implementation has been reinforced with deployment of more policemen on the streets to arrest violators of not only home quarantine but also those who do not observe social distancing and do not wear face mask.
According to the official, the stricter rules and deployment of more soldiers and policemen on the streets resulted in the sharp increase of the number of violators arrested last Friday.
“From the average of 24.17 arrested violators in the first 39 days of the ECQ implementation, our record yesterday (April 24) was at 73.79 percent,” he said.
Eleazar explained that while there were a total of 145,940 violators reported from March 17 to April 24, only 35,270 of them, or 24.17 percent were actually arrested while 103,781, or 71.11 percent were just warned and allowed to go mostly for humanitarian consideration.
The remaining 6,889 violators, or 4.72 percent were fined since there are ordinances of the Local Government Units which include imposing fine as a form of sanction especially for first time violators.
Last Friday, he said that a total of 1,488 violators were reported across the country. Of the figure, 1,098, or 73.79 percent were arrested while the remaining 390, which represents 26.21 percent of the total number of violators for the day were fined.
“The increase on the number of violators arrested can be attributed to our zero tolerance policy, meaning, not a single violator was warned on April 24. They were either arrested or fined,” he said.
“As such, this serves as a warning to all that your JTF COVID Shield, your policemen and your soldiers, are no longer warning violators. They arrested all the violators and they will continue to do so,” he added.
Eleazar clarified that the number of violators reported since are actually on a downtrend since March 17. The highest number of violators reported was on the first day of the ECQ implementation on March 17 at 8,205.
The April 24 report on curfew violators, which is at 1,488, was the lowest recorded since March 17.
President Duterte himself expressed frustration on the continuous violation of home quarantine and social distancing rules prompting Gen. Gamboa to order his commanders to refrain from giving ECQ violators a 2nd chance and instead arrest and charge them in court immediately.
“We expect substantial compliance to the directives of the SILG and the Chief PNP now that we further intensified the implementation of the ECQ,” said Eleazar.