More cops to be sent out to enforce pandemic protocols in public areas

More cops to be sent out to enforce pandemic protocols in public areas
Police officers remind people to maintain social distancing and to observe other health protocols while jogging around the premises of the CCP complex in Pasay City, Manila on Saturday morning, March 20, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Philippine National Police ordered all unit commanders in Metro Manila to send more police officers to areas where the public will be as Metro Manila shifts to Alert Level 3, a looser form of quarantine against COVID-19.

In a statement, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he issued the order in response to an appeal by the Department of Health to continue implementing the minimum public health safety protocols.

The DOH issued the reminder after people started flocking to churches, malls, parks, and other areas over the weekend because of the lower alert status.

Police data shows that from Saturday to Sunday, 5,606 Filipinos were fined for violations of minimum public health standards, while 7,867 were warned. 

"I have already directed our unit commanders in the National Capital Region to increase police presence in all possible areas of destination of our countrymen following the downgrading of alert level in Metro Manila," said Eleazar, who added that the order came from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año. 

"We understand the concern of our colleagues in the Department of Health and the medical community regarding the reports that have been shown where people flocked to sights, malls and other places last weekend," he added.

The past 581 days of community quarantines have seen government officials loosening quarantine protocols to revive the economy, followed by enforcement officials labeling people who go out or find themselves in crowded areas as hard-headed. 

According to Eleazar, health officials expressed concerns over what they describe as an apparent complacency on the part of the people when they go out of their homes "to take advantage of the easing of restrictions."

In some parks and churches, it was observed that people failed to observe the protocols for their safety. 

"My order includes coordination with our LGUs in Metro Manila to properly implement the minimum public health safety protocols and other restrictions to be enforced in NCR," said PGen Eleazar.

"We in the PNP are also relieved that somehow the situation in our country is slowly returning to normal, but this still should not be a reason for us to be complacent and ignore health safety protocols because otherwise, the short-term happiness we feel now will end up in a long lockdown," he added.

Quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila are set at a more relaxed Alert Level 3 until the end of October as the COVID-19 situation in the capital region continues to show marked improvement.

Per data from the Philippine National Police, 581 areas are under granular lockdown across the country, leading to 6,136 households or 22,024 individuals under lockdown. 

To date, health authorities have recorded 2.72 million coronavirus infections in the country, 68,832 of whom are still classified as active cases.

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