By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is committed to a strict enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine measures to demonstrate its concern for the welfare of the citizenry.
“Handa ang PNP na ipadama ang malasakit at kalinga sa mga mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng mahigpit na pagpapatupad ng batas at patuloy na pag-aresto ng violators (The PNP is ready to show to the public its concern and care by strict implementation of the laws and continuous arrest of violators),” Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson told the Manila Bulletin.
He said the PNP stands ready to implement a martial law-like lockdown as warned by President Duterte to address reports of rampant disobedience in government measures.
President Duterte said in a public address on Thursday night: “I’m just asking for your disiplina kasi kapag ayaw niyo, ayaw niyong maniwala, mag-takeover ang military pati pulis. I am ordering them now to be ready. Ang pulis pati military ang mag-enforce sa social distancing at ‘yung curfew. Sila na, parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo.”
(“I’m just asking for your discipline because if you don’t want, if you don’t believe me, the military and police will take over. I am ordering them now to be ready. The police and military will enforce social distancing and curfew. They will be [in-charge] much like martial law. You choose.”)
Meanwhile, the PNP will continue to man the established quarantine control points with the help of the military, implement patrol operations, and arrest violators ahead of the announced expiration of the ECQ on April 30.
In a separate statement, Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, deputy chief for operations and commander of Joint Task Force Coronavirus (JTF-COVID) Shield, expressed readiness to adhere to the President’s order if the need for a martial law-lockdown arises.
“While the situation has improved, there are still some people who have violated the rules and even went to the extent of engaging in illegal cockfighting and drinking session. The JTF-COVID Shield is ready for any scenario and is always ready to comply with the President’s order,” Eleazar said.
As of Thursday, the PNP has dealt with 119,061 quarantine violators who were either arrested, fined or warned depending on the gravity of their offense, according to Banac.
Meanwhile, 8,429 public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers were apprehended for violating the prohibition on public transport during the ECQ while 720 traders were nabbed for hoarding, overpricing, profiteering, short selling and other trade violations.