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WATCH: Cop uses stick to enforce social distancing at Manila dolomite beach

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — An estimated 10,000 individuals flocked Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach on Sunday, a day after the National Capital Region downgraded to Alert level 3, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A video taken by Rechie Susarno, also known as COVIDMan, who dons a COVID-themed costume and helps enforce social distancing as part of his advocacy to curb the spread of COVID-19 in various sites in Metro Manila, showed the crowding near the entrance of Manila dolomite beach.

He said there was no visitor limit enforced on Sunday morning.

COVIDman managed to stay in the area for three hours on Sunday morning. However, when he returned in the afternoon, a cop, who was not wearing a uniform, suddenly enforced a 15-minute-stay limit using her stick.

"Pinagtataboy ang mga namamasyal sa Dolomite [Beach] kahit ‘yung nasa labas na ng area pinapauwi . Wala namang sign na nag sasabi na 15 minutes lang or bawal tumambay sa labas ng Dolomite," COVIDman said in an online message exchange with Philstar.com.

(People were driven away, even those who were outside the area. There wasn't any sign saying people could only stay for 15 minutes or that people couldn't hang out outside)

“Umuwi lang ako at bumalik ng 2 p.m.  Kung may rules sila, dapat na-implement noong pag open mismo. E lahat ng tao oras ang nasa loob. Walang sumisigaw or sign na nag sasabing 15 minutes,” he added.

(I went home then returned at 2 p.m. If they had rules, they should have implemented them when the beach opened. People were there for hours. Nobody was shouting or even a sign saying people could only stay for 15 minutes)

He later identified the enforcer as Police Lt. Col. Evangeline Balatbat Cayaban, station commander of Ermita in Manila. A previous station commander was relieved from his post after crowds gathered at the dolomite beach when it was opened to the public in September 2020.

COVIDMan lamented that the cop was harsh in enforcing the social distancing measures.

"Doon nga po ako sa gutter ng main road as in gilid. Pinalo niya ang costume ko to think na advocacy ang ginawa ko at walang bayad," he said.

(I was on the side of the road. She hit my costume, and to think that I am doing this as an advocacy and for free)

The COVID-19 protocol advocate also made headlines early this month after he visited the Certificate of Candidacy filing area and helped enforce health and safety measures in the area.

RELATED: Spotted: COVIDman urges COC filers’ supporters to follow social distancing rules

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Sunday said that they were "overwhelmed" by the number of visitors in the area.

He said visitors could stay at the artificial beach as long as they want but only 300 people are allowed in the area during the adjusted visiting hours from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"We will gradually expand the area accessible to the public for viewing in the coming weeks as we progress on with the completion of the project," the environment chief said.


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