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More cops off to Pasay, other COVID-19 hot spots

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
More cops off to Pasay, other COVID-19 hot spots
The Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed at least 180 additional police officers in Pasay City to help strictly enforce minimum health standards following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said yesterday.
STAR / File

Public display of affection prohibited

MANILA, Philippines — More police personnel are being deployed to enforce health protocols, quarantine passes are back in several areas and a longer Metro-wide curfew is being considered as the government moves to contain a spike in COVID cases that could be due to more infectious variants.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed at least 180 additional police officers in Pasay City to help strictly enforce minimum health standards following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said yesterday.

Deploying additional cops will help the Pasay police in reminding people to constantly wear face masks and face shields, as well as maintain physical distancing protocols in public places.

According to the Pasay City epidemiology and surveillance unit, the city has at least 512 active COVID-19 cases. The public information office said that as of March 8, 53 households in 60 communities were placed under localized lockdown, while the lockdown order was lifted in 25 barangays after a dip in active cases.

Apart from Pasay, Malaya said the PNP would deploy more policemen in Navotas where 508 active COVID-19 cases were logged as of Monday, and Malabon where three cases of the United Kingdom (UK) variant were recently detected.

In San Juan, the local government adjusted the curfew hours to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., from the previous midnight to 3 a.m. Violators will be fined P20,000 to P50,000 or jailed from one to six months, in accordance with Executive Order FMZ-072.

PNP bans PDA

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said couples are prohibited from showing public displays of affection (PDAs) and that if spotted, policemen are instructed to call them out.

According to the PNP, physical intimacy in public violates health and safety protocols set by the government. “If we see them embrace, stay shoulder-to-shoulder and very close to each other, it’s an automatic violation,” Usana said.

The official said the ban covers kissing in public, as well as other acts such as holding hands and embracing one another. Apart from couples, family members and friends in public places are also covered by the ban.

Police officers will not immediately arrest couples caught doing PDAs but will just caution them on the first offense, he said.

Non-compliance

President Duterte blamed the recent spikes in COVID-19 infections on non-compliance with safety measures, as he reminded the public to strictly observe minimum health protocols.

“We’re trying to find a way of effectively combating this new development of COVID-19 variants. I hope you can help. Follow the protocols and we can bring down the number of COVID cases. You have only one life to live so please guard yourself,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, Malaya blamed COVID-19 fatigue for the complacency of the public and police officers, noting that both have grown tired after a year of facing the pandemic.

“We have experienced COVID-19 fatigue and not just our countrymen. Even the enforcers, the police have gotten it too,” he said, adding that local government units have also been complacent in enforcing minimum health protocols and some don’t even have ordinances imposing penalties on violators.

For his part, House Speaker Lord Alan Velasco called on authorities and the public to remain vigilant in observing health protocols, as the country logged in more than 3,000 new COVID cases over four consecutive days.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. We have to wait until such time a greater number of Filipinos are vaccinated and herd immunity has been achieved,” he said. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Neil Jayson Servallos, Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Alexis Romero, Edu Punay

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