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Police chief relieved for deploying SONA cops without swab test results

Philstar.com
Police chief relieved for deploying SONA cops without swab test results
Police barricade the highway as protesters march along Commonwealth Avenue before President Rodrigo Duterte's sixth and final State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has ordered the administrative relief of the Talipapa police station commander, Police Lt. Col. Cristine Tabdi, for assigning 51 cops to the State of the Nation Address duty despite not having RT-PCR test results yet.

This was confirmed by Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the PNP in a statement sent to reporters Thursday morning where he called the incident a "breach of protocol" due to command responsibility. 

To recall, the Quezon City local government confirmed that 82 police officers of the station tested positive for the coronavirus. However, 51 of the positive cases had been on duty during President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address on Monday.

"This should serve as a reminder to all our commanders to exercise prudence and to strictly abide with our existing protocols amid the serious threat of COVID-19, especially with the rising number of infection from the Delta variant," Eleazar said.

The infected cops have since been quarantined in facilities, while the PNP has begun contact tracing its personnel. 

READ: QC gov't confirms 82 cops tested positive for COVID-19 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosaro Vergeire also said that the deployment was a breach of protocol, saying the cops should not have been deployed if they did not know their test results yet. 

According to Eleazar, it is still unclear if the personnel were infected with the Delta variant of the coronavirus. He urged the public not to make any speculations until the final results come out. 

'PNP was deployed to ensure orderly protest'

The PNP chief also decried what he said were the "unnecessary and insensitive comments from some personalities about the unfortunate incident."

"Let us not forget that the reason they were deployed is to ensure that the right of some of our compatriots to protest and express their views is peaceful and orderly, while also protecting the rights of motorists and our fellow commuters who are not interrupted by protest actions on the streets they regularly pass through," he said. 

Eleazar earlier vowed that the PNP would practice maximum tolerance when dealing with protesters and would respect their right to freedom of assembly. 

READ: Belmonte to QCPD: Explain blocking SONA protesters

However, police barriers were set up along Commonwealth Avenue on Monday morning, blocking the protest march earlier agreed upon by the Quezon City Police District, city government, and progressive groups.

Other protesters were also apprehended in North Caloocan while they were on their way to demonstrations. Their protest materials were also confiscated. 

Two activists in Albay were also shot after they were caught spraying protest graffiti on a wall. 

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PNP QCPD QUEZON CITY POLICE DISTRICT
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