In a virtual press conference, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa, said that the police will start arresting civilians who violate quarantine measures such as social distancing, mandatory wearing of masks and unauthorized trips outside of their homes without warning starting today, Apr. 21.
“Foremost, there will be no more warning for ECQ violators—instead arrest and inquest procedures will be applied to cases of violation of Republic Act No. 11469 [Bayanihan to Heal as One Act]; Republic Act No. 11332 [Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act]; as well as Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code [Resistance and Disobedience to Persons in Authority or Agents of Such Persons],” Gen. Gamboa said.[READ: The lowdown on the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act]
The PNP chief said they have authorized the deployment of 12 teams of Special Action Force (SAF), totaling 116 personnel to strategic locations, initially within Metro Manila and now augmented to local PNP Units in the intensified enforcement of ECQ starting today.
In a previous statement, Gamboa said arrests without warning are only likely to happen if President Duterte pushes through with his threats of imposing martial law.[READ: Increasing police, military presence in ECQ raise questions on probability of martial law lockdown]
“Siguro magpakita dapat ang publiko na mag-behave sila para hindi ito matuloy. Kasi kung ito ay matutuloy, it will really be a full implementation of the law. Wala na tayong warning, diretso na tayo sa aresto,” Gamboa said.
According to PNP’s latest numbers on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) violators, from Mar. 17 to date, there were 98,986 violators warned, 6,168 fined, 31,363 arrested (2,467 of whom are still detained), 24,248 cases filed for a total of 136,517 ECQ violators.
Likewise, 732 persons have been arrested for hoarding, profiteering and manipulating the prices of basic goods. 9,419 public utility vehicles drivers have also been apprehended.
As of the last count, of the over 6,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 74 are cops. Furthermore, 723 uniformed personnel are under close monitoring while three have already died due to coronavirus.
“We will not allow the continued increase in the cases of our law enforcers who are the country’s last line of defense in maintaining order amidst our fight against COVID-19,” Gamboa said.
Header photo courtesy of Philippine News Agency
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE