PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday night urged the public to make more sacrifices this year by doing away with extravagant celebrations to mark the Christmas holiday amid the continued threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Ngayon pa lang, we are saying sorry that there will be a curtailment of so many things that you have been used to during Christmas time. Look at it this way, all of the Christmas(es) of your lifetime ngayon lang naman ito, isang beses (lang ang) hinihingi ng gobyerno para sa iyo. Ang ano dito, para sa iyo, hindi para sa gobyerno (As early as now, we are saying sorry that there will be a curtailment of so many things that you have been used to during Christmas time. Look at it this way, of all of the Christmases of your lifetime this will be the only time that the government is asking this from you. And this is for you, not for the government),” Duterte said during his weekly public address.
While he understood that Christmas holidays are traditionally marked with activities like parties and get-togethers, the President appealed to everyone to be “kind enough just to skip the festivities” not only for the good of their loved ones but also for the “good of the community and eventually for the good of the country.”
He added: “You have had so many Christmas blowouts and parties. This is one Christmas, the only Christmas maybe, that the government will interfere in your private affairs. You might think that this is too much, ‘government does not control us,’ of course we cannot control you individually if what you do is what you want, the problem is we are preventing you from getting other people sick.”
The President reminded everyone that COVID-19 is still present and it would be better to continue observing minimum health protocols such as physical distancing rather than getting sick and spending long days confined in hospitals.
The government had vowed to inoculate 60 million to 80 million of Filipinos for free starting next year or once the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
The government expects to complete the vaccination program in three to five years.
Duterte said he favors the use of yantoks or rattan sticks by the police and even vowed to look for money next year to “buy you (police) batons,” which he said the police can use to defend themselves and avoid unnecessary violence that may result from the use of guns.
The Philippine National Police is looking at using batons to implement social distancing among the people especially in crowded areas like markets.
The batons can be used to measure and ensure that the one-meter physical distancing protocol is followed.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas stressed the need to equip policemen with batons and yantoks to ensure social distancing with community quarantine violators.
Sinas said the batons and yantoks will be distributed to policemen or “social distance patrollers” deployed in public areas like markets, transport terminals and train stations.
“These will be used for social distancing to avoid contact because without these sticks, our policemen will be forced to be touch (the violators). We’re encouraging, directing our police to use the stick to ensure social distancing,” said Sinas.
Sinas said the batons and yantoks are needed especially when the violators become unruly.
“We will use them if they (violators) become violent or if they resist, instead of using our guns to subdue them,” he said.
Meanwhile, policemen apprehended and placed under quarantine six tourists from Metro Manila who went to Boracay Island in Aklan using tampered COVID-19 results.
The six, including four females, were picked up from a resort on Monday afternoon and brought to a facility in Kalibo for a 14-day quarantine. They arrived earlier Monday for a 10-day vacation in Boracay.
Aklan provincial police director Esmeraldo Osia Jr. said one of the six presented an authentic RT-PCR. However, the same test result was reproduced by her five companions and made it appear the result was their own.
Osia said the six will be facing charges of falsification of documents and violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act after their quarantine.
Also, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation will not investigate for now those behind the source of the bogus information that went viral during the weekend that a nationwide lockdown will be imposed from December 22 to January 3.
“For as long as the government could quash all of these false information through the usual communication channels, I will reserve the resources of the NBI for more urgent and critical investigations,” Guevarra said.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag yesterday ordered police chiefs to assist in the “rescue” of indigenous peopleS roaming in the streets of Metro Manila to seek alms and food from motorists.
Binag, the concurrent PNP deputy chief for operations, said he has received reports about IPs, including children, who are now in the metropolis knocking on the doors of cars and asking for financial aid. He said he personally saw some along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City and along Santolan Street in Pasig City.
Binag said the IPs that he saw in Quezon and Pasig cities were not only lacking face mask, which has been mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, but “there were (also) children, there were elderly. Practically, all violations are there. But we are looking at it on the side of compassion.”
Binag said he has ordered the police chiefs to coordinate with the social welfare offices of local government units where they are assigned “for the rescue of our IP brothers so they won’t be infected or they won’t infect others.”
“Traditionally, they come when Christmas is approaching, next week is the time when they usually come (to Metro Manila),” he added.
He said the IPs will be provided transportation and food and will be brought to where they came from. – With Victor Reyes and Ashzel Hachero