PNP: Fines, community service for quarantine violators during MECQ
Members of the Quezon City Police District keep their post on Jose Abad Santos Street at Sitio 5, Barangay Sta. Lucia in Quezon City after it was placed under a special concern lockdown on March 9, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

PNP: Fines, community service for quarantine violators during MECQ

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 12, 2021 - 12:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — No quarantine violators will be arrested as the so-called NCR Plus bubble transitions to a slightly looser Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, the Philippine National Police said Monday. 

At a press briefing Monday, Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, PNP spokesperson, said that this directive from the chief of police was meant to ease the burden on the courts and address the high volume of cases being filed against quarantine violations. 

This comes after two weeks of enhanced community quarantine where abuse on the part of power-tripping cops was well documented. Two cyclists were harassed and detained for supposedly breaking rules for bikers. One man was made to do 300 rounds of a squatting exercise and later died of a stroke. 

"For ordinances, mechanisms for enforcement are spelled out. But in our implementation of ECQ, the Chief PNP did not require the filing of charges because it might also be counterproductive to our people...What happens in the precinct is either documenting or processing," Usana said in Filipino and English. 

"It's impractical for police to man checkpoints but still have to bring people to precincts. That is also tantamount to taking them into custody...The Chief PNP discouraged arresting or bringing them to the police station, only warnings and fines." 

Ahead of the Palace's MECQ announcement, the PNP on Saturday also deployed an additional 5,000 police officers around the so-called NCR Plus bubble covering Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.

On the first day of ECQ alone, the PNP disclosed that nearly 2,600 were arrested for various quarantine violations within the bubble.

In his presentation on the enforcement guidelines amid the MECQ, Usana said that PNP personnel at checkpoints will still be equipped with wooden night sticks. Information dissemination operations along with foot patrols are also slated to continue under the looser quarantine status. 

Anti-crime operations, however, will remain part of the daily functions of police units within the bubble area, Usana said. 

37,000 warned, fined

PNP data show that more than 37,000 in the so-called NCR+ bubble have either been warned, fined or subject to community service for supposed quarantine violations since March 29. 

"We presume that our commanders are consistent with the requirement of giving pre-deployment briefings to personnel...and communicating properly. We do not discount the fact that there are lapses from police in implementation. They just need to explain properly," Usana said. 

"This doesn't become an instrument of abuse. We just need the public to comply with health protocols. We assure the public that we will be professional, courteous, and will observe maximum tolerance. The compassionate kind of enforcement should be handled well."

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