By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed on standby at least 8,000 policemen for any eventuality relating to the government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for Operations, said the standby force will be tapped mostly for the implementation of the strict guidelines on home quarantine amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“We have plans, that is why we have placed on standby at least 8,000 that we could immediately mobilize. We will use them once additional forces are needed on the ground,” said Eleazar in a press briefing during his visit to a Quarantine Control Point in one of the boundaries of Cavite and Metro Manila.
Eleazar, who also heads the Joint Task Force JTF Corona Virus Shield, has been doing the rounds of various Quarantine Control Points to boost the morale of the policemen on the ground who were tapped to implement the home quarantine rules.
JTF CV Shield, composed of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Philippine Coast Guard, is the implementing arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force in enforcing the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
PNP chief Archie Gamboa, who is recovering from the injuries he suffered in a recent helicopter crash in Laguna remains busy in giving out directives to various police units in the country on the implementation of the quarantine rules, specifically on the aspect pertaining to the safety of the policemen on the ground.
“The first order of our Chief PNP is the protection of our personnel on the front line. He said that policemen should be fully protected because if our personnel on the ground are infected, this will be a big problem,” said Eleazar.
Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, PNP deputy chief for Administration, is in charge of regularly meeting with members of the PNP Directorial Staff to determine and address the basic needs of the policemen on the ground, according to Eleazar.
Eleazar explained that the police forces placed on standby will also serve as reinforcement for their fellow cops on the front line, noting that the cops must also be fully-rested to boost their immune system against COVID-19 infection.
He said the PNP has been observing regular rotation for policemen on the front line since lack of sleep and fatigue would make them prone to infection.
Almost 800 policemen are either under monitoring or under investigation for possible COVID-19 infection.
The PNP had earlier confirmed that a rookie cop and a police priest were infected and are now under medication.
Eleazar said some areas inside Camp Crame were already initially identified as isolation areas for policemen being investigated and monitored for COVID-19 infection.
“The PNP leadership would like to assure our men on the ground, and their families, that we are focused on the welfare of our personnel. We are regularly holding meeting to provide and address all the needs and concerns of our men on the ground,” said Eleazar.