By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now preparing for worse-case scenarios amid serious threats of the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, including the possible lockdown of some parts of Metro Manila.
The COVID-19 response of the government was tackled in two separate meetings held at Camp Aguinaldo for the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and at Camp Crame for top officials of the police and representatives from the military, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and the Department of Health on Thursday.
The meeting at Camp Crame went viral on social media after a copy of a conference notice was posted and circulated online. The agenda, according to the conference notice, would tackle a “lockdown in certain areas in NCR (National Capital Region) relative to COVID-19.”
Acting PNP Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Benigno Durana would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the police document.
“It is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in the PNP to prepare for all possible scenarios,” said Durana when asked to confirm whether the police document circulating online is fake or not.
At least two police officials, however, confirmed the meeting held at Camp Crame. They said the meeting was presided by Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Luis Licup, the head of the Directorate for Operations.
But the officials said the agenda discussed in the meeting was only for planning purposes if in case the situation on COVID-19 spread worsens. They said the lockdown was just one of the items discussed in the meeting.
In a statement, the PNP-Public Information Office denied it has ordered a lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR), apparently referring to the police document circulating online.
“Contrary to some reports circulating in social media, please be advised that the PNP has not issued any order for a lockdown in the NCR. It is only the NDRRMC that can issue such an order to address the current public emergency,” the statement read. “Nonetheless, the PNP is continuously enhancing its preparations to address contingency.”
The top government officials who attended the Camp Aguinaldo meeting are expected to come up with recommendations to be submitted to President Duterte for approval.