MANILA, Philippines — Amid the coronavirus pandemic—and the community quarantine in the Philippines that has dragged on for 219 days—neither the national police nor the military will be throwing Christmas parties in their units for Christmas this year.
This was confirmed by both agencies' public information offices in separate statements issued Thursday morning.
In a statement, Police Col. Ysmael Yu, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police said: "The Philippine National Police will skip all forms of lavish and overgenerous Christmas parties in all Units and Offices, including social clubs and sectoral organizations among PNP personnel."
He was careful to point out that police leadership had assured its personnel that they would still receive the mandated bonuses, supplemental allowances, and other benefits on top of the regular pay. Personnel holding the rank of Police Officer 1, the lowest rank in the PNP organization, earn a starting monthly salary of P29,668.
On Wednesday, Police Gen. Camilo Cascolan also told reporters that the PNP was looking at deploying more cops during the Christmas season to deter a possible spike in crimes and terrorism.
For his part, Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP chief, had also ordered the military to defer holiday parties “as an austerity measure” and as a "gesture of sensitivity" according to Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson.
“Fellow Filipinos here and abroad have been suffering. And this is the least we can do to commiserate with the people we have sworn to secure and serve especially in this time of crisis,” Arevalo is quoted as saying in an Inquirer.net report, instead directing all servicemen to put aside funds for the military’s COVID-19 response and other personnel who have caught the novel coronavirus.
Salaries donated to COVID-19 drive
Earlier this year, both the AFP and the PNP also gave up portions of their salaries to donate to coronavirus response efforts. Both agencies saw significant pay hikes under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has since admitted that he did not know where to get additional funds to combat the spread of the virus.
He has instead relied heavily on police enforcement of quarantine protocols.
"Other than the traditional extravagant and bountiful feasts, there are more meaningful ways to count the blessings of the Holiday Season-- with God, family and country always above self," Yu said.
As of the Department of Health's latest case bulletin on Wednesday afternoon, 362,243 infections have been recorded in the country since the new pathogen first emerged in December, good for the 20th largest caseload in the world.
With Christmas drawing closer, the Philippines remains under the world's longest quarantine, with the chief executive also regularly stressing that a vaccine is the only way out moving forward.