For the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, barangay officials and their security officers, popularly known as barangay tanod, are a formidable force that could help the government effectively contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said barangay officials and tanod would be able to cover the areas in their respective communities where the police and military enforcers of the quarantine rules could not regularly monitor due to limited manpower and resources.
In most cases, Eleazar said that it is on the alleys, streets and corners of barangays where violations of minimum health protocols usually happen such as engaging in drinking session, gambling, and even gossiping.
Eleazar said that while the police and military have been maximizing all its resources to contain the unnecessary movement of the people and violation of health safety protocols which are seen as one of the major reasons of coronavirus transmission, the manpower is still not enough to guard every street and corner of the country.
“The battle against the COVID-19 is not only on the borders of every towns and cities of the country where policemen and soldiers are deployed, the real battle is actually on every street and corner of the more than 42,000 barangays of the country where violations of quarantine rules regularly occur,” said Eleazar.
Aside from barangay tanod, Eleazar said Local Chief Executives can also deploy their respective Public Order and Safety personnel to enforce the quarantine rules such as what the Manila and Quezon City governments are doing.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno deployed 400 COVID-19 marshals to enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing in every street of Manila while Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte created Monitoring Teams that regularly patrol the streets of the city.
Eleazar said that the active participation of all the barangay officials is the missing link to fortify the country’s defense against the spread of the coronavirus.
Based on the data of the JTF COVID Shield, a total of 320,102 violators were warned, fined and charged since March 17 when the government started implementing community quarantine to August 14.
Eleazar believes that there are more violators that are not properly checked at the barangay levels following reports that they have been receiving that people have started to engage in drinking session, holding parties and other celebrations and even engaging in gossiping in the barangays.
“We in the JTF COVID Shield believes that once the strict and proper implementation of quarantine rules are done down at the barangay level, we would be able to effectively contain the unnecessary movement of people and address violations that would eventually lead to the significant reduction of COVID-19 cases,” said Eleazar.
Early this month, Eleazar tasked all police commanders across the country early this month to mobilize barangay tanods in the implementation of minimum health standard protocols.
Police Quarantine Rules Supervisors (QRS) were assigned in every barangay of the country to supervise the barangay tanod in the implementation of quarantine rules. The Public Order and Safety personnel of the Cities and Municipalities were also tapped to do the same at least in city and town proper where public markets, business establishments and other places of convergences are located.
The full utilization of barangay tanod is yet to materialize but Eleazar expressed confidence that that it would be done in the coming days, especially in Metro Manila and nearby provinces where Cabinet Secretaries were assigned to oversee the government’s fight against the COVID-19.
“The battle against COVID-19 is far from over. We will continue to live under threat of coronavirus infection and the only option we have now to at least reduce the infection rate to insignificant level is for the national government and the LGUs to work together to keep the majority of law-abiding Filipinos to observe quarantine rules and to compel the rest of hard-headed Filipinos to behave,” said Eleazar.