Cops sent to checkpoints in 'NCR+ bubble' ahead of ECQ implementation

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Cops sent to checkpoints in 'NCR+ bubble' ahead of ECQ implementation
Police officers inspect passing two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles and issue tickets to non-Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) motorists plying EDSA in Pasay City on Monday night, March 22, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of the imposition of enhanced community quarantine, the Philippine National Police will begin pre-positioning its personnel inside the "NCR+ bubble" by Sunday evening, while enforcement of the new quarantine status will begin at exactly 12:01 a.m on Monday.

At a press briefing, Police Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, who serves as commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said that the National Capital Region Police Office would be deploying over 9,000 personnel to man the 1,106 quarantine control points within the bubble to strictly implement protocols.

According to Binag, personnel manning the established checkpoints will only check whether motorists are authorized persons outside residences, or APORs.

"Those unauthorized to pass through will be turned back. We urge people not to insist or even go out if they know they're not authorized because we will turn them back," Binag said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"There will be no checking of temperature. Our expectation is just the documents to prove you are APORs. We call on people to prepare their documents for smooth implementation."

The same control points will also be put up in Batangas, the PNP deputy chief for operations disclosed, to ensure no unauthorized persons slip into the bubble undetected. 

'Proper decorum and maximum tolerance'

Since the PNP started deploying cops to enforce uniform curfew hours in the capital region, over 17,000 have been apprehended for supposed quarantine violations, PNP data show. 

Of which, more than 7,000 were fined, while exactly 2,381 were arrested. 

In a separate statement, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the PNP Administrative Support for COVID-19 Task Force, urged station and unit commanders to "ensure that their respective personnel will observe proper decorum in the implementation [...] with emphasis on the observance of maximum tolerance and respect on the rights of the people."

The ASCOTF commander also disclosed that the PNP would play a "supporting role" for local epidemiology service units that conduct house-to-house visits for coronavirus cases. 

“Our personnel will just be in a supporting role similar to the [Social Amelioration Program] distribution, vaccine deployment and other COVID-19 related tasks that require security assistance. Everybody is watching, all our personnel are regularly being reminded of our role. Sanctions will be meted to those who will do otherwise,” he said.

PNP cases rising, too

Eleazar also reminded police captains to ensure compliance with minimum health standards, as well as the provision of protective gear for deployed personnel. 

According to latest update from the PNP Health Services, the police force has tallied 2,068 active cases of the pathogen within its ranks. This, as the organization has begun recording over 150 cases per day. 

The highest recorded increase in the PNP in one day was on March 26 with 316, Eleazar said, while another 185 new cases were reported on Saturday evening.

On Saturday, another member of the PNP, a 45-year-old male police non-commissioned officer assigned at the NCRPO succumbed to complications due to coronavirus infection. He was the 37th PNP personnel who died of COVID-19.

"It is incumbent upon each and every PNP personnel to ensure their own protection by observing the minimum health safety protocol that was proven to be effective as a shield to the coronavirus infection,” said Eleazar.

“We cannot afford to have a high infection rate because the PNP is among the government’s backbone in the fight against this deadly virus,” he added.

Curfew includes services? 

For economic activities, Binag told reporters that the national police "will leave it to other branches of government to lay out what is allowed."

Asked if other services like supermarkets in the bubble will also have to close during curfew hours, though, Binag said: "That's what we understand from the policy, unless they issue a clarification." 

Eleazar said in his statement that police leadership will also require their personnel who are checking vehicles "to have sticks to prevent contact with the public."

Binag also remarked that police would still be carrying rifles for the security and protection of the control points. 

"We know tomorrow is the anniversary of the CPP-NPA. So all of these things were taken into consideration," Binag said.

"We're appealing to our people to follow the rules of our police. After all this will just be one week. Since it's Holy Week, let's just use this time to pray for this pandemic to end."



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