PNP readies 40,000 cops in case of Metro Manila lockdown

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said that it is preparing to utilize the services of around 40,000 cops should there be a need to implement a Metro Manila lockdown to prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa, PNP Chief, said the bulk of the force will come from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) with 28,000 personnel while the remaining 12,000 will be sourced from the different National Support Units (NSUs) at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa

“Ang lockdown kasi (In case of a lockdown), you should get a signal from the DOH [Department of Health] and certain protocols must be observed but the PNP will always be there,” Gamboa said in an ambush interview with reporters at Camp Crame.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano had earlier raised the possibility of a Metro Manila lockdown should the DOH raise its COVID-19 Alert System to Code Red Sub-Level 2, which means that there is a continuous transmission of the disease.

Currently, Code Red Sub-Level 1 is hoisted as the Health department confirmed the first ever case of local transmission in the country. President Duterte placed the entire country under a State of Public Health Emergency.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also expressed readiness to support government plans to combat COVID-19, including deploying military personnel in case of a lockdown.

Quarantine areas in police camps

Gamboa ordered the 17 police regional offices (PROs) across the country to establish quarantine areas for policemen who will exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

“Each of the different PNP units nationwide should have their own quarantine areas. Pwede naman tayong (We can do) house quarantine pero (but) if necessary na talagang gawin dito sa kampo kung (that we do it in police camps if it is) very immediate, then kasama ‘yan sa plano (it’s included in our plans),” he said.

The isolated quarantine areas will be manned by trained police nurses and doctors.

This measure was implemented as Major General Debold Sinas, NCRPO Chief, reported that four of his personnel were placed under home quarantine as preventive measures from contracting the deadly respiratory disease. Two of them were senior officers while two are non-uniformed personnel.

Gamboa has also approved the procurement of 300 sets of protective gears which will be given to Metro Manila cops who serve as front liners, first responders, and beat patrollers.

“Priority natin dyan NCR people kasi dito naman ‘yung may mga reported cases (We are prioritizing the people in the NCR because the reported cases are here,” he said.

‘Oplan Bandillo’

Through “Oplan Bandillo,” Metro Manila cops have started patrolling the streets to escort unsupervised children found to be loitering the streets back to their homes, especially since classes in the National Capital Region were suspended until March 14.

Sinas explained that they implemented Oplan Bandillo for community awareness and information dissemination on best practices to avoid being infected with COVID-19, including the practice of proper hygiene and avoiding places of convergence.

“I call on everyone, especially the parents, to keep an eye on your children. Let them stay at home and keep them away from places like internet cafe, markets, and malls,” he said.

Curfew hours will also be strictly implemented in the metro while the public is advised to limit possible visits to detainees.

Gamboa appealed for the cooperation of the public as he emphasized that the deadly disease will only be contained with the collective efforts of everybody, not just the government.

“I think it’s everybody’s concern. The declaration of a national health emergency should be considered by the public because it is for the welfare of everybody. The interest is so high because it’s national health,” he said.