'One time, big time' operation nets 3,200 violators in Quezon City
Minimum health protocol violators are being profiled and issued with ticket at Quezon City Memorial Circle after they were nabbed during a one time big time operation of Quezon City Task Force Disiplina Task force, QCPD and DPOS on May 12, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

'One time, big time' operation nets 3,200 violators in Quezon City

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 12, 2021 - 4:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City local government apprehended some 3,200 citizens Wednesday noon in a “one-time, big-time” joint operation brought to the Quezon Memorial Circle for proper documentation and lecture on ordinances pertaining to minimum health protocols in the city.

In a statement, the QC government said that the violators were issued ordinance violation receipts with a corresponding penalty ranging from P300 to P1,000 amid President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to authorities to arrest those not wearing face masks properly.

"The apprehended individuals will have to pay the fine within a reasonable period. If they fail to pay within the prescribed period, the City Prosecutors Office will file a case that will flag them once they apply for a police clearance for whatever purpose," the city's statement read. 

Individuals who showed symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, colds and difficulty of breathing were made to undergo swab testing, while the city also provided face masks and face shields to apprehended violators.

Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety head Elmo San Diego, a retired general, said that the operation aims to lessen the number of health protocol violators in the city. 

“We did this ‘One Time Big Time’ last month, and we're still doing it today. We will not stop as long as there are still many who are getting reprimanded for not following our local ordinances on health protocols," he said. 

Mayor Joy Belmonte said the city is intensifying its campaign to warn and educate the residents on minimum health standards. 

One Time, Big Time

Earlier data from the Quezon City Police District showed that a total of 825 violators were already arrested for violating city ordinances on proper face masks and face shields wearing prior to the operation. Around 7,600 others were warned, while 7,886 were fined, the city information office disclosed.

Over the pandemic, the Quezon City Police District has relied on its "One Time, Big Time" operations to enforce quarantine protocols, often netting thousands of violators on those days. 

The district infamously arrested journalist Howie Severino during its first OTBT operation after the latter claimed he only took off his mask to take a sip from his drink. 

Last March, the law and order cluster of QC apprehended more than 1,700 individuals during a ‘One Time Big Time’ operation over violations on minimum health protocols that are being implemented in the city.

"These One Time Big Time operations were launched because many still do not follow health protocols. However, we will still enforce maximum tolerance and those caught violating will be given a ticket," Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

The narrative that the lack of discipline among Filipinos caused the surge in cases is one that has already been disproven by data and surveys, though it continues to persist among government officials today. 

The "one time, big time" operation was conducted by the Department of Public Order and Safety, QC Police District, Task Force on Transport and Traffic Management, Task Force Disiplina, and Market Development and Administration Department in the city’s 142 barangays.

Senator: Give the poor face masks before arresting them 

It is only fair that poor Filipinos who cannot afford face masks deserve a chance to obey the rules first before they get arrested, Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed Wednesday.

"Before implementing the arrest order issued against Filipinos not wearing masks, it is but fair and just for the government to provide to those who don’t have the money to buy them," he tweeted.

He pointed out not all Filipinos can afford to buy face masks because they are busy making ends meet as they continue to feel the effects of the pandemic.

Lacson said that when the proper authorities are able to distribute enough face masks, that would be the proper time to strictly impose the rules.

"When the government is able to distribute reasonably enough masks, that's the time it can enforce the rules against the individuals who now have face masks but do not wear them properly," he said.

“Recently, we also distributed 1.2M face masks and 300k face shields to our indigent residents to prevent such violations of our ordinances,” Belmonte added.

— with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio 

Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com.


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