– With Christian Oineza
POLICEMEN will continue to arrest and detain violators of home quarantine and curfew rules in accordance with guidelines set under the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Sunday.
Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations and concurrent commander of the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield, said the PNP was withdrawing its decision, which was announced on Saturday, that it will no longer arrest and detain violators.
Eleazar said the PNP reconsidered its decision following appeals made by local government units (LGUs) for the police not to be lenient with violators because that will only make it more difficult to convince their constituents to abide by quarantine guidelines.
“Based on our assessment, the number of curfew violators will just continue to rise if we become lenient with them. This will definitely defeat the purpose of the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine which President Duterte approved purposely to contain the COVID-19,” Eleazar said.
“Just imagine if, shall we say, a quarter of these violators are already virus carriers, they will not only endanger the health and the lives of our policemen and other people manning the quarantine control points but also the health workers and other frontliners who are exempted from the quarantine,” he also said.
Eleazar said violators will be brought to police stations for investigation and filing of cases.
Eleazar said PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa has approved the recommendation of the JTF Corona Virus Shield to coordinate with LGUs to identify temporary detention centers big enough so the detained violators can observe social distancing.
“Our message to the public is clear, we will continue to arrest any person who will violate the curfew,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar said 42,856 persons have been apprehended for violation of the ECQ in Luzon and in other areas in Visayas and Mindanao from March 17 to 27. Of the figure, 13,708 were arrested while the rest were merely warned.
Eleazar said 33,243 of the violators were from Luzon (8,519 arrested and 24,724 warned), of which 12,094 are from the National Capital Region (2,354 arrested and 9,740 warned).
In Visayas and Mindanao, Eleazar said there were 9,613 violators accosted – 5,189 were arrested and 4,424 were warned.
President Duterte ordered the Luzon-wide ECQ on March 17 until April 12 and deployed troops to limit the movement of people to prevent the spread of the virus.
Some local government units in the Visayas and Mindanao, including the President’s hometown Davao City, have adopted some measure in their areas to protect their constituents from COVID-19.
Eleazar said the persons who were accosted violated the curfew imposed by LGUs and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases guideline against going out of their homes.
“We look up to all the frontliners as heroes in this war against COVID-19. But ordinary people can be heroes too by staying at their home as their own contribution in this war. Once we win this war, you can proudly tell the stories to your grandchildren about your contributions, how you helped the government to win the war against COVID-19,” he said.
In San Juan and Marikina, six persons were arrested for violating the home quarantine rule. Those arrested were identified as Francisco Mitra, 58, vendor; Raymundo Bukas, 32 chef assistant; Hermoso Llaneza, 47, construction worker; Jordan Ombao, 47, all residing at barangay Industrial Valley Complex (IVC) Marikina; Irene Regualos, 47, Angkas biker; and Aldrin Cordova, 46, taxi driver, both of Greenhills, San Juan.
The violators were caught drinking in their neighborhoods on the evening of Saturday,
Eleazar reiterated the PNP’s appeal for public understanding about the restrictions being imposed to prevent the spread of the virus. “The virus does not move. People move it. We stop moving, the virus stops. It’s that simple,” he added.
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said they will implement stricter measures at the the Pasig Mega market located in Caruncho Avenue.
Sotto, in his Facebook page, said entry and exit points of the market place will be reduced to eight as social distancing and fever screening.