Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said similar disciplinary measures have been implemented in Metro Manila since 2018.
The STAR/Boy Santos, file
Police visibility increased for GCQ, MGCQ areas
Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities will intensify police visibility for areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ to enforce ordinances on anti-loitering, drinking and smoking ban.

The move is part of efforts  to keep residents indoors amid the apparent complacency of the public in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an official said yesterday.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said similar disciplinary measures have been implemented in Metro Manila since 2018.

“Through intensified police visibility and strategic deployment, coupled with the cooperation of barangay enforcers, we were able to imposed discipline in Metro Manila, which eventually gained positive results on crime statistics,” Eleazar said.

“We believe that we can use this strategy against COVID-19. We have observed that the people became complacent when the quarantine rules were eased,” he added.

In 2018, the Duterte administration launched an anti-crime thrust, which targeted “tambays” or those who stand idly or loiter in public places.

Nearly 3,000 people were arrested by police in less than a week under the anti-tambay drive. Some were detained by policemen supposedly on the basis of President Duterte’s verbal directive.

In 2017, Duterte signed Executive Order 26 providing for a nationwide smoking ban and ordered the police to arrest persons drinking in public places.

Eleazar, deputy chief for operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said police officers would be implementing these orders through ordinances enacted by local governments to help instigate compliance among the residents.

The task force said it has been receiving reports that some communities in Metro Manila and other parts of the country have complained about loiterers on the streets after the imposition of the more lenient GCQ.

Police said some individuals have also started to smoke and vape in public places.

According to Eleazar, PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa has given the green light for the increased police visibility through a memorandum issued by Director for Operations Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Licup.

While he did not specify what kinds of violations the police would be monitoring, Eleazar cited how authorities cleared the streets of loiterers, persons drinking in public as well as minors violating curfews and the regulation of videoke machines during the anti-tambay crackdown in 2018.

Based on the PNP data, a total of 3,631, 553 people were warned, fined and arrested across the country for violating related ordinances from June 2018 to Feb. 2020. Metro Manila accounted for almost half of the violators with 1,804,406.

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