PNP calls on private security to back 'intensified enforcement' of quarantine rules
Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

PNP calls on private security to back 'intensified enforcement' of quarantine rules

( - July 10, 2020 - 5:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — A unit of the Philippine National Police on Wednesday issued a memorandum calling on private security to aid the PNP's effort to "intensify enforcement" of laws and local ordinances amid the coronavirus-induced community quarantine.

"In this regard, all Private Security Personnel (PSP), being the PNP's Force Multipliers are once again called on to provide assistance to the PNP by immediately reporting crime incidents and assist in the maintenance of peace and order within their respective areas of responsibilities," the memo, posted on Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies' Facebook page, reads.

"[It] is imperative that the laws and locals ordinances are strictly enforced to prevent the occurrence of common street crimes and prevent chaos wherein threat groups and criminal elements may take advantage of the situation and carry out their criminal intents and illegal activities," Police Col. Sidney Villaflor, acting SOSIA chief, said.

The quarantine enforcement arm of the government's COVID-19 task force on Sunday said it was looking at tightening the enforcement of local ordinances—including bans on loitering, drinking and smoking—to further clamp down on quarantine violators.

In a statement, Joint Task Force COVID Shield—composed of the national police, military, coast guard and fire protection bureau—said it "sees discipline-based and local ordinances such as anti-loitering and ban on smoking and drinking session alongside the streets in the communities as an effective tool" to fight the coronavirus.

“We believe that we can use this strategy against COVID-19 especially [since] we have been receiving complaints and observations about some of our [citizens] who start to become complacent after some of the quarantine rules were eased,” Eleazar pressed in his most recent statement.

Deflecting the blame of lapses in decision making to the public's supposed lack of discipline in following quarantine rules has long been a pattern of behavior among government officials, even as these claims have been proven to be untrue.

Data bears out that the public has actually been doing its part to curb the virus' spread.

READ: Gov't said Filipinos are 'pasaway' and violate quarantine, but data show otherwise

'Militaristic, police-centered strategy vs COVID-19'

After a series of record-breaking spikes in daily infections, Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged the government to revise its strategy against the deadly novel coronavirus disease.

"We need to rethink our militaristic and police-centered approach to the problem," Hontiveros said.

The senator added that "heightened medical visibility," is more necessary than heightened police visibility, saying "we need an army of health professionals" to combat the virus.

As it is, warrantless arrests and overzealous law enforcement have already been common over the months-long COVID-19 quarantine, with cops often citing social distancing reasons when arresting protestors.

Victims' and witnesses' accounts often paint a picture of aggressively cops who do not read their Miranda rights nor inform them of the charges for their arrest, both part of standard operating procedure which is required of police when conducting arrests.

READ: Task force looks to 2018 'anti-tambay' campaign for COVID-19 fight

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights last week expressed concern that the arrests made by police amid the novel coronavirus pandemic "appear to violate the government's own health and safety guidelines."

The commission said that physical distancing guidelines, in particular, seem to be disregarded during arrests.

"We urge the law enforcers to adhere to government’s own health protocols and serve as good examples for the rest of the citizens to follow," the commission's spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

"At the same time, this reminder comes at a time when the Philippine National Police also notes a rise in the case of police officers testing positive for [COVID-19]. It would then be to the benefit of our police officers to help curb the trend of possible more infections by being more conscious of their actions," she added.

As it stands, the country has logged a total of 51, 754 novel coronavirus cases with a record-high of 2,539 new infections recorded on Wednesday.

This, only days after the previous record-breaking high of 2,434 on Sunday, and another 2,099 infections on Monday.

A researcher from the University of the Philippines on Tuesday warned that COVID-19 cases could breach 100,000 in the country by the end of August. — Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Franco Luna 

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