Eleazar hits violators, tells Filipinos: Don't make it hard for gov't to protect you
Members of the Manila Police District check for identification and proof of residence from motorists passing through the checkpoint along Roxas Boulevard in Manila as part of the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine which took effect on Tuesday midnight.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Eleazar hits violators, tells Filipinos: Don't make it hard for gov't to protect you
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - August 11, 2020 - 3:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — Over 300,000 quarantine violators have been apprehended since the enhanced community quarantine was first declared, which the government's quarantine enforcement task force says is proof of Filipinos' "defiance" which it expressed outrage towards on Tuesday. 

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said in a statement that the task force "continues to receive reports of violations of quarantine rules at the community level such as engaging in drinking sessions, holding and attending parties and other celebrations, and even gambling."

Earlier, the JTF COVID Shield said it got these reports through "observations on social media." 

According to data provided by the task force, a total of 308,859 quarantine violators were apprehended over the 147 days of quarantine since enhanced community quarantine was first hoisted on March 17. Of which, 47% (146,012) were warned; 25% (77,190) were fined while the remaining 28% were charged.

“The success and failure of our fight against COVID-19 depends on the cooperation of our kababayan. The more they defy and challenge the rules set by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the more they make it difficult for our government to protect them,” said Eleazar.

“On the part of the JTF COVID Shield, we will continue to maximize what we have to strictly enforce the quarantine rules because what is at stake here is the lives of the Filipino people and the fate of our country,” he added.

The task force provides only an aggregate sum of all violators, though, while its lion's share are actually violators of motorcycle back-riding rules.

From August 1, the first day after MECQ was announced, to Sunday, the task force recorded an additional 23,660 quarantine violators.

However, 14,441 or 61% of these "violators" were cited for reckless driving, which is what the task force uses to charge motorcycle riders back-riding without the necessary barrier—the same barrier that advocates and experts alike have warned is potentially dangerous. 

READ: Motorcycle barriers may have dangerous effect on aerodynamics, riders warn

Only the remaining 39% are cited with "disobedience" and "curfew violations."

Data from JTF CV Shield shows that most recorded violators since July are actually violators of pillion-riding rules and not social distancing and minimum health standards.
Philstar.com screenshot

Besides the exaggerated figures, it is not clear where the claim of Filipinos being defiant towards quarantine rules is founded on, as separate data from tech giants Google LLC and Apple Inc., UK-based think tank YouGov, and even local surveys from the Social Weather Stations refute this.

RELATED: Gov't said Filipinos are 'pasaway' and violate quarantine, but data show otherwise | Hontiveros: Stop blaming coronavirus surge on 'pasaway' Filipinos

Doctors: Quarantine lifting fueled public misperception 

The Eleazar-led task force continues to claim, as it said in an earlier statement, that "the continuous defiance of some people to observe the minimum health safety standard protocol is seen as one of the major reasons why the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise."

With policemen themselves leading the barangay and local government personnel, Eleazar stressed in an earlier statement that this "would send a strong message to every member of the community that they should conform and adhere to the quarantine rules, or face the consequences of their complacency or hardheadedness."

But medical societies at the start of August called for another round of enhanced community quarantine over Mega Manila to give frontliners a brief respite from the daily toll of the pandemic and allow the national government to recalibrate its faulty approach to dealing with it—something that has largely gone relatively unchanged so far in the MECQ. 

READ: Has pandemic response been recalibrated or is MECQ a repeat of the same policies?

"The progressive lifting of quarantine has inadvertently fueled public misperception that the pandemic is getting better. It is not," the doctors said in their open letter outlining their concerns with the government's handling of the pandemic. 

Government officials have so far seemed more focused on returning to GCQ, however, while some of the concerns raised by healthcare workers have yet to be addressed.

In between the first day of June, when general community quarantine was put in place to restart the country's economy, and August 4, the first day of the second modified ECQ, the national caseload grew by 93,995 cases. The health department's tally stood at 18,638 the day the shift to GCQ was made

Consistent with the administration's pattern of blaming "stubborn" Filipinos for the rising COVID-19 infections in the country, Eleazar in his statement added that the increase in COVID-19 cases coincides "with the increase in the number of quarantine violators accosted for defying the rules against unnecessary travels and other non-compliance to the minimum health safety standard protocols."

Just the day before, however, the National Task Force against COVID-19 said that Metro Manila was ready to revert back to general community quarantine because the number of cases per day had gone down from 6,000 to 3,000. Later that day, health officials recorded almost 7,000 additional infections. 

In an earlier statement, the Coalition for People's Right to Health wrote: "A militarist handling instead of a medical approach to the pandemic wreaks fear among the people and proliferates human rights violations—while doing little, if not nothing, to curb the number of cases and spread of disease."

"The first line of defense is the public, so people need to be reminded that we need to use masks and face shields, wash hands and practice social and physical distancing, now more than ever," the medical collectives also said in their earlier manifesto. 

JOINT TASK FORCE COVID SHIELD MECQ NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 18, 2020 - 4:47pm

Metro Manila and other “highrisk” areas were placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine last May 16, which is more relaxed than ECQ, but has more restrictions compared with the general community quarantine (GCQ). Bookmark this page for updates. Photo by The STAR/Michael Varcas

August 18, 2020 - 4:47pm

Sen. Bong Revilla, who earlier tested positive for COVID-19, was rushed to the hospital, according to his wife Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado.

"He is being rushed to the hospital. His latest X-ray shows that he has developed pneumonia and isolation in a regular facility is no longer ideal," Mercado says in a Facebook post Tuesday.

August 18, 2020 - 4:23pm

The Department of Health reports 4,836 additional COVID-19 cases in the country, pushing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 169,213.

The DOH also logs 182 new recoveries, bringing the total of recovered patients to 112,861. The national death toll is now at 2,687 with the addition of 7 new reported deaths.

Total active cases (net of COVID-19 deaths and recoveries) in the Philippines is now at 53,665.

August 17, 2020 - 4:27pm

The Department of Health reports 3,314 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, bringing the total cases on the country to 164,474.

The health department also announced 237 new recoveries, pushing the total of recovered patients to 112,759. The national death toll is now at 2,681 following 18 new reported deaths.

The total active COVID-19 cases (net of deaths and recoveries) in the Philippines is now at 49,034.

August 17, 2020 - 2:52pm

President Rodrigo Duterte is under "perpetual isolation" as a precaution against COVID-19, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says.

According to Roque, there is a velvet rope keeping people six feet away from the president.

In August, Duterte had a meeting with DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano, who later on tested positive for the virus once again.

August 6, 2020 - 4:15pm

The Department of Health on Thursday reports 3,561 additional COVID-19 cases in the country based on tests from 89 out of 98 operational labs. This pushes the national tally of coronavirus cases in the Philippines to 119,460.

The health department also announcs 569 new recoveries, raising the total number of recoveries to 66,867. The national death toll is now at 2,150 with 28 additional fatalities.

The country's total active cases (net of COVID-19 deaths and recoveries) is now at 50,473.

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