Enforcers mull fines, community service sanctions for curfew, quarantine violators

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Enforcers mull fines, community service sanctions for curfew, quarantine violators
Members of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) conduct an operation against violators passengers and drivers not wearing face masks and face shield along Commonwealth avenue in Quezon City.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The quarantine enforcement arm of the coronavirus task force is looking at fines and community service as possible sanctions for violators of curfew and quarantine protocols, its chief said Wednesday. 

With general community quarantine now extended until end-September in Metro Manila and other areas, more business establishments will be permitted to resume operations once more. The Joint Task Force COVID Shield said it would be going "all-out" in its enforcement of curfews regardless of quarantine designations, and will also be sending more cops to business districts. 

Newly-instated Police Gen. Camilo Cascolan, now the PNP chief, also wants to enhance the regular conduct of barangay patrol of policemen in order to ensure that the minimum health safety standard protocols are observed.

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the task force said that "arrest and the filing of charges could be the last resort if the violators became unruly and disrespectful to law enforcers, or the violators are repeat offenders."

“Almost all of the barangays and Local Government Units (LGUs) have no detention facilities so the tendency is to turn over those who would be arrested to the local police. As part of the decongestion measures of police detention facilities, it is advisable that violators are punished by community service or payment of fine as sanctions,” said PLt. Gen. Eleazar.

“Warnings should not also be given to the violators because we have been enforcing them for more than five months now, everybody should know by now about the curfew and other quarantine rules being enforced by the government,” he added.

This was not the case at the onset of the enhanced community quarantine, when quarantine violators were documented being put in tight cages and made to stay in crowded detention facilities.

In July, for instance, personnel of the Quezon City Police District along with the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety staged a "One Time, Big Time" operation tightening enforcement of mandatory face mask-wearing protocols all over the city where over 1,000 violators were brought to the Amoranto Stadium and "processed for proper disposition."

RELATED: 'By the book': A look at quarantine incidents and police operational procedures

Data from the task force itself shows that some 26% of the over 360,000 quarantine violators accosted and penalized over the past 169 days of community quarantine were arrested—amounting to over 25,000 who were detained despite the pandemic.

In its latest statement, though, the joint task force acknowledged that "community service and imposing certain amounts as fine are logical punishments since detaining violators would only put them at risk of infection inside cramped detention facilities." He added that "the money that would be paid by the violators is an additional source of income" for the government's pandemic response efforts, although these would depend on the local governments concerned. 

According to Eleazar,  police commanders have since been instructed in a memorandum by police leadership to refrain from imposing physical punishments on the curfew violators.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 20, 2021 - 4:10pm

Other regions and provinces in the Philippines considered moderate and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine starting May 1. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Edd Gumban)

November 20, 2021 - 4:10pm

The health department registers 1,474 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national caseload to 2,824,499. 

  • New deaths: 205
  • New recoveries: 2,565
  • Total active cases: 22,070
November 19, 2021 - 4:05pm

The Department of Health reports an additional 1,485 COVID-19 infections, bringing the national tally to to 2,823,210.

  • New deaths: 277
  • New recoveries: 1,393
  • Total active cases: 23,200
November 18, 2021 - 4:26pm

The Department of Health registers 1,297 new COVID-19 cases, biringing the national caseload to 2,821,753.

  • New deaths: 305
  • New recoveries: 1,956
  • Total active cases: 23,158
November 10, 2021 - 4:07pm

The Department of Health registers 2,646 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national tally to 2,809,311.

  • Active cases: 29,138 or 1.0% of the total
  • Deaths: 99, pushing the count to 44,665
  • Recoveries: 4,029 bringing the number to 2,735,508
November 9, 2021 - 4:11pm

The Department of Health logs 1,409 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national tally to 2,806,694.

  • Active cases: 30,544 or 1.1% of the total
  • Deaths: 46, pushing the count to 44,567
  • Recoveries: 2,941 bringing the number to 2,731,583
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