From batons to one-meter sticks: Davao City cops arming to enforce physical distancing

DAVAO CITY – Police officers in Davao City have been directed to bring one-meter sticks to ensure physical distancing in public areas by demonstrating to the people just how far they should keep themselves from each other to avoid contracting the highly contagious coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Sara Duterte (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Mayor Sara Duterte (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was disclosed by City Mayor Sara Duterte, who underscored that there was a need for the local government to take steps in ensuring that physical distancing is followed after seeing several people failing to observe this in public places.

“We need to emphasize to the people that the wearing of a mask, distancing, bringing of alcohol, and handwashing must go together,” she said.

She said that the wearing of the mask without observing distancing would not reduce the risk of contracting the infection.

She said the police officers, who are tasked with monitoring public areas must bring the sticks to accost those gathering without observing distancing, as she acknowledged the absence of markers in public places to remind the people of this rule.

“Anywhere they go, they must bring a stick. Whoever they see that do not observe the distancing, they must show to them how far one meter is,” she added.

The City of Davao, which has been on extended modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until August 15, has eased the quarantine restrictions here by lifting the curfew, enforced 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and the implementation of food and medicine (FM) pass.

As of Tuesday, the city government has yet to issue the new executive order on the latest quarantine guidelines here.

In defense of her decision to ease quarantine restrictions, Duterte added the people should “self-regulate,” instead of compelling them to follow stricter measures, because the local government wanted the people to live to “as close to normal as possible, despite the pandemic.”

She said the people must understand that they should learn self-discipline since the start of the yuletide season is just around the corner, with people going in frenzy mode for the holidays.

“The fourth quarter of every year is a celebratory mood for everyone. If you are in my position, you will see the behavior of the people is different during the fourth quarter. They become happier, they become celebratory,” she said.

She said the city must expect more people to come to Davao for the holidays, but emphasized that there would be no let-up in the implementation of basic health protocols even during the “joyous season.”

“Let’s us not wait for people to get hyped already when this season comes before we emphasize to them that there is need to regulate yourself with your mask, your distancing, your handwashing, and of course, planning your movement so that most of the time you are home, so it’s a stay at home thing,” she said.