No more warning before arrest under 'tighter' ECQ as PNP leads contact tracing
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 21, 2020 - 3:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be handling all contact tracing efforts for probable and suspect cases of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from here on out, its chief said on Tuesday. 

In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, said that this was part of a tighter enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine on the part of the national police, particularly in Metro Manila, Region III and Calabarzon.

Gamboa said that the order was coursed through the DOH and DILG.

"We're being tasked to lead the contact tracing for positive, probable and suspected cases. We hope local government units and other people who can help support us in contact tracing," he said in Filipino. 

"We need to do this because we want to mitigate the increasing risk to frontline PNP personnel. We will not allow the continued increase in our law enforcers, who are the country's last line of defense," he added. 

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya told Philstar.com, "The inter-agency task force [on COVID-19] directed the DILG and the LGUs to lead contract tracing. We in turn directed the PNP to assist the LGUs."

This came days after President Rodrigo Duterte last week asked the public to discipline themselves in observing social distancing and said that he would order the military and police to the military and police to strictly enforce the quarantine if its measures were still breached. 

READ: Duterte asks public for 'discipline' in following quarantine rules

Police and military personnel have been manning checkpoints since the middle of March, when the quarantines were first declared. 

The chief of the national police also bared that there were 74 confirmed cases of the new virus among PNP ranks, while 12 personnel have recovered.

No more warning

"In the name of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and with the help of the staff of the Philippine National Police and the soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we will enforce starting now a strict enhanced community quarantine," Gamboa said. 

"There will be no more warning for violators," he added.

Gamboa reiterated his warnings on Sunday that cops would directly apprehend any violators of lockdown protocols should the chief executive's earlier pronouncement of a "Martial Law"-like community quarantine become a formal order.

"No let-up, we will start arresting...We will charge all of you until you can avail of a bail, and if all are still in process, we can always legally detain you," he said. 

READ: PNP: We'll go 'straight to arrests' in 'martial law-type' quarantine

However, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac clarified to Philstar.com in a text message that this pronouncement was not connected to Duterte's earlier warning of "martial law-like" marching orders.  

"Those are guidelines taken up in IATF meetings. No further statements have been issued by President Duterte since the last time he spoke," he said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Gamboa also disclosed that he authorized the deployment of 12 teams of special action forces, with 116 personnel, to strategic locations in Metro Manila.

"What I want the public to know is that PNP is a national employee... Anybody from the PNP can be deployed nationwide. But we're not heartless. If there is necessity on a case-to-case basis, it will be observed," he said. 

'No fault'

Police have been arresting violators of curfews and quarantine guidelines since March. By the month's end, more than 69,000 had been arrested or fined.

Safeguards against warrantless arrest are still in place amid a state of national emergency. 

RELATED: CHR: Human rights, writ of habeas corpus remain during state of national emergency, calamity PNP: 'No difference' in quarantine implementation if military takes over

In his address, Gamboa also defended the actions of the national police in the past week. 

Speaking about policemen who barged into the premises of a high-end condominium in Taguig City and threatened its residents to allegedly enforce quarantine rules, the chief of police said, "I stand firm on the decision of NCRPO that the police had no fault here."

"Appropriate cases are being prepared by the Police Regional Office 3," he said of the arrest of Anakpawis volunteers. 

The condo's management has said it would seek legal action against the police. 

READ: Management of Taguig condo to seek legal action vs cops who barged into compound

'Medical solutions needed'

Besides enforcing quarantine procedures, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also told Philstar.com in early March that the national police could assist in contact tracing measures "if warranted."

Human rights and healthcare organizations alike have been saying that the Duterte administration's narrative of a nationwide war against COVID-19 perpetuates a misplaced militarism in a time when medical solutions are needed.

READ: 'War' narrative in COVID-19 crisis fails to empower Filipinos, groups say

Healthcare advocacy group Coalition for People's Right to Health co-convenor Josh San Pedro earlier told Philstar.com in an online exchange, "I think it may reflect the lack of manpower by the DOH to conduct contact tracing and quarantine."

San Pedro pointed to the lack of support for the country's healthcare system as a whole as the root of this. 

Sought for comment by Philstar.com, the DOH has not yet responded. 

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 3, 2020 - 4:44pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the bill that grants him special powers to address the novel coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines. Bookmark this page for updates. 

July 3, 2020 - 4:44pm

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima says President Rodrigo Duterte continues to "play victim and recite his weekly lamentation 'wala na tayong pera' despite his emergency powers and a trillion-peso debt expedition.

"Duterte’s Bayanihan Law just expired and it left us no better than we were before. Sa madaling salita, PALPAK," the senator says.

"Tanong ng bayan – “saan ginastos ang pera at mga inutang?” Your answer is probably as good as mine," she adds.

June 25, 2020 - 12:53pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the Palace wants to extend the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to address future needs like in Cebu City.

The city was placed on lockdown amid the increase of COVID-19 cases.

June 20, 2020 - 1:58pm

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima calls for investigation on the delays and other logistical problems concerning the distribution of cash assistance for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In order for the distribution of the remaining cash aid under the first tranche of the SAP and the cash aid under its second tranche may be facilitated in an expeditious and smooth manner, mechanisms that will respond to the glitches faced in the implementation thereof must be reviewed,” De Lima says.

“A senate inquiry in in aid of legislation will be the proper venue to hear the conflicting claims between the stakeholders, and help resolve the reported attendant issues in the implementation of the SAP – which the Senate, along with the House of Representatives, granted unto the President through the Bayanihan Act,” she adds.

 

June 19, 2020 - 9:53am

Ombudsman Samuel Martires says his office will issue subpoenas to Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for the investigation of the budget for COVID-19 response.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source," Martires says his office started the investigation even before the lockdown was implemented in March 15.

"We have some documents we want to get from DOH, the subpoena is addressed to the secretary of department," Martires tells CNN Philippines Friday morning.

June 16, 2020 - 12:08pm

Government Service Insurance System reports that they have started to release the life insurance proceeds plus the additional P500,000 benefit  under its Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners to the families of four government frontliners who succumbed to COVID-19.

“GSIS recently released a total of P7.8 million in life insurance benefits plus an additional P2 million in BFF benefits to the legal heirs of four government medical frontliners who died of COVID-19. We are currently in the process of validating the insurance claims of 18 other claimant-families,” says GSIS President and General Manager Rolando Ledesma Macasaet. 

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