The country may be bracing for a more relaxed version of the quarantine, but for the Philippine National Police, it only means they will have to intensify police visibility as the country adjusts to the "new normal".
Recently, Joint Task Force COVID Shield Commander Lt. General Guillermo Eleazar said the PNP will heighten police visibility as more areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) will shift towards General Community Quarantine (GCQ) after May 15, 2020. But with businesses set to resume operations, the PNP is also wary of criminal activity to surge once more in areas placed under GCQ.
“Under GCQ, more establishments will be allowed to operate because our economy will be partially opened. This means that more people would be allowed to go out. So, our police visibility would be in these areas in order to strictly implement the basic rules such as wearing face masks and physical distancing,” said Eleazar.
Quarantine control points (QCPs) and dedicated control points (DCPs) will still be operational in areas under GCQ. However, Eleazar said that the PNP will likely ease the strict measures in order to avoid causing traffic jams as the workforce gets back to work. Instead, the PNP will intensify the use of mobile checkpoints and random checking of private vehicles by personnel of the Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) who are expected to deploy several motorcycle-riding officers.
To help the PNP personnel curb criminal activity under the new normal, Eleazar said that they will ask help from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for added visibility to deter criminal elements. Based on PNP data, criminal activity declined 61% in the past 56 days of the implementation of the ECQ compared to the previous 56 days before the ECQ.
Before the implementation of the ECQ, the average cases in eight focus crimes (murder, homicide, physical injury, robbery, theft, carjacking, carnapping of motorcycle, and rape), was 150 a day. It went down to 88 on March 17 and in the past 56 days of the ECQ, the average was at 59.
“The challenge now is how to sustain it. So, our kababayans should expect continuous stricter measures such as curfew during nighttime because this measure is not only to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but also as our preventive measure against criminal elements. We ask the public to gradually accept the fact that these strict measures are the new normal in terms of peace and order under the time of this pandemic,” added Eleazar.
As the country is preparing to get back to work under new normal conditions, the PNP's job will only get harder as more and more people venture outside of their residences to get back to work. Let us all do our part by wearing face masks at all times while outside our homes, follow social distancing guidelines while in public places, as well as always keeping our hands clean and sanitized.