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Quezon City Station 3 police chief sacked

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar yesterday sacked the commander of the Quezon City Police District Station 3 for giving State of the Nation Address (SONA) duties to 51 QCPD personnel who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Lt. Col. Cristine Tabdi was relieved from her post for command responsibility after it was found out that 51 of the 82 QCPD Station 3 officers who tested positive for the virus were part of the security
contingent deployed during President Duterte’s last SONA.

Eleazar said Tabdi breached COVID-19 protocols when she deployed the police officers for SONA duties while waiting for the result of their swab tests.

The police officers underwent reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests on July 23, three days before Duterte’s SONA.

They tested positive for COVID-19 last Tuesday and Wednesday.

“This should serve as a reminder to all police commanders to exercise prudence and strictly follow health protocols amid the threat of COVID-19,” Eleazar said.

He added police officials should be extra careful in their decisions, given the soaring number of COVID infections due to the more transmissible Delta variant.

The PNP has conducted focused COVID testing on QCPD personnel to identify, isolate and provide medical assistance to those who may have been infected with the virus.

“Hindi pa natin alam kung Delta variant ang tumama sa aming mga kasamahan sa QCPD kaya nakikiusap tayo sa ating mga kababayan na iwasan ang mga espekulasyon tungkol dito,” Eleazar said.

The PNP chief defended the police officers from public criticism.

Eleazar said the police personnel were deployed during the SONA to ensure the safety of everyone, including members of cause-oriented groups.

“Hindi makatwiran at hindi makatao na hamakin pa ang ating kapulisan sa kabila ng kanilang sinapit dahil halos lahat ng mga pulis na tinamaan ng COVID-19 ay dahil naman sa pagtupad ng kanilang tungkulin,” Eleazar said.

National Capital Region Police Office director Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. criticized militants who took part in protest rallies during the SONA.

Danao said police officers should not have been deployed during the SONA if not for the “hardheaded” protesters, who insisted on holding rallies despite the threat posed by the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“Ang titigas ng ulo ninyo. Kung hindi sana kayo nagsipag-rally eh di wala sanang ide-deploy na pulis diyan,” Danao said in an interview on dzBB.

Danao said the protesters only have themselves to blame if they would test positive for COVID-19.

“Hintayin na lang natin mangisay kayo diyan,” he said.

The police officers who were found positive for the virus did not interact with the protesters as they were assigned at the UP Technohub, according to Danao.

The QCPD breached quarantine protocols when it deployed police personnel for SONA duties pending the release of their swab test results, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

“The objective of the COVID testing is to screen people so that they would not infect others. They should not have been deployed while the results are not yet out,” Vergeire said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News/TV5 on Wednesday night.

Cop dies of COVID-19

Meanwhile, a 40-year-old policeman assigned at Camp Crame succumbed to COVID-19 on Tuesday, three days after he was rushed to a hospital due to shortness of breath.

Eleazar said the patient was brought to a quarantine facility on July 11 after he tested positive for the virus. The policeman was transferred to a hospital after his condition worsened.

The police officer died of acute respiratory failure and pneumonia secondary to COVID-19. –  Ghio Ong, Sheila Crisostomo

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