More cops sent to business districts as more establishments reopen

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
More cops sent to business districts as more establishments reopen
Members of the quarantine task force are seen questioning a mall employee as part of their inspection in the wake of the reopening of some malls in areas under general community quarantine.
Release / JTF CV Shield

MANILA, Philippines — Police commanders have been instructed to increase police visibility in business districts after the National Task Force against COVID-19 approved the resumption of business establishments' operations starting Tuesday, September 1. 

Earlier Monday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez announced at the Laging Handa press briefing that businesses such as tutorial and review centers, gyms and fitness centers, and personal and pet grooming centers would be allowed to operate. 

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Police Lt. Gen. Gullermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said police commanders, which have been deployed to most of the country's barangays as quarantine rules supervisors, should anticipate that more people will be going out of their homes. 

RELATED: Month-long quarantine period eyed

“Local commanders can also tap the barangay officials for the deployment of barangay tanods as force multipliers, or the Public Order and Safety Personnel of cities and municipalities to augment the local police,” he said.

“We should anticipate all the eventualities that may occur and these must be included in the planning and implementation in order to ensure that the quarantine rules are observed,” Eleazar also said. 

At the start of the first general community quarantine, Eleazar issued a similar statement, reminding the public that the GCQ was imposed to restart the country's economy and not for people to go out to malls for "leisure" despite most malls having supermarkets, pharmacies, and hardware stores, which are considered essential businesses.

He also threatened to close down malls not enforcing physical distancing. 

RELATED: JTF COVID Shield: Eased quarantine is for the economy, not 'for leisure'

The tightening of quarantine enforcement continues with the task force's latest move. At the start of the second wave of enhanced community quarantine in early August, police checkpoints were placed in the borders of cities and municipalities first. This was later extended to include public markets and other places of convergence. 

Over 300,000 quarantine violators have been apprehended since the enhanced community quarantine was first declared, which Eleazar says is proof of Filipinos' "defiance" of quarantine rules, which "makes it hard" for police to "keep them safe" from the microscopic pathogen. 

“The easing of restrictions is for the sake of our economy. It does not mean that we should also lower our guard. The threat of coronavirus infection is still there so we should always be alert and continue doing our mandate of protecting the public from virus transmission,” said Eleazar.

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