With just a few days left before the eventual lifting of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the Philippine National Police (PNP) has announced that they will intensify their enforcement regarding quarantine violators throughout Luzon.
Before, those that were found violating ECQ guidelines (not wearing face masks, not following social distancing guidelines, unauthorized persons outside of their homes, etc.) were only given a warning. But with the number of violators continuing to increase, the PNP has decided to be tougher against ECQ violators.
“There will be no more warning for ECQ violators. Instead, arrest and inquest procedures will be applied to cases of violations of Republic Act 11469, Republic Act 11332, as well as Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. We will implement the strict enhanced community quarantine,” said General Archie Gamboa, PNP Chief.
The stricter implementation of the ECQ guidelines is already in effect in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon. In addition, the PNP will also be strictly enforcing the guidelines in localities with high or increasing COVID-19 infections. With it, the PNP seeks to prove that they mean business and all must strictly follow the guidelines.
“These violations of the law carry with it appropriate penalties and fines, but, what will be more burdensome for violators are the tedious judicial process and the implications of a derogatory record to their personal criminal profile,” included Gamboa.
The PNP has already ordered the deployment of several Special Action Force (SAF) teams to assist local police units. “I have authorized the deployment of 12 teams of Special Action Force, totaling 116 personnel to strategic locations, initially within Metro Manila to augment local PNP Units in the intensified enforcement of ECQ,” added Gamboa.
Based on PNP data gathered from March 17 up to now, there have been a total of 98,986 violators warned, 6,186 fined and 31,363 arrested, with 2,467 violators still detained. Meanwhile, 24,248 cases have already been filed, totaling to 136,517 violators for the past 35 days of the ECQ.
The largest number of violators in Metro Manila is in the Southern Police District with 15,745 cases, followed by the Northern Police District with 7,407 cases. Meanwhile, the Eastern Police District and Quezon City Police District tallied over 2,000 cases each, while the Manila Police District has over 1,000 cases.
“We should learn from the experience of other countries that prematurely relaxing the enforcement of their lock-down can cause a resurgence of infection. So please, let us not be complacent and let us do this together. We need to do this because we also want to mitigate the continued risk faced by front line PNP personnel who are exposed to an increasing number of people and motorists violating the ECQ at checkpoints” said the PNP Chief.
To date, the PNP has 74 personnel infected by the virus, with a total of 723 cases pending including those that are suspected or are probable of having the coronavirus. 12 PNP personnel has already recovered while 3 have died due to the disease.
Gamboa also mentioned that along with the Armed Force of the Philippines, they will not allow the health workers to continue getting infected by the virus due to ECQ violators because this will increase the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
Gamboa urged the local government units (LGUs) to support the police by imposing ordinances in order to mitigate the spread of the virus in their local communities. The PNP Chief also reminded everyone to wear face masks while outside, follow social distancing guidelines, as well as avoiding unnecessary trips outside of their homes.