COVID Shield prefers community service, fine for curfew violators

The national government’s enforcement arm for implementation of quarantine rules prefers community service and payment of fines as penalties for the violators of curfew and minimum health safety standard protocols.

A member (L) of a police special action force checks for required quarantine identification from a resident in Navotas in suburban Manila on July 16, 2020

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said detaining violators of the quarantine rules only put them at risk of infection especially if they are jailed in cramped jail facilities.

But he said detention and filing of charges could be the last resort especially if the violators are unruly and disrespectful of the law enforcers, or repeat offenders.

“Almost all of the barangays and Local Government Units (LGUs) have no detention facilities so the tendency is to turn over those who would be arrested to the local police. As part of the decongestion measures of police detention facilities, it is advisable that violators are punished by community service or payment of fine as sanctions,” said Eleazar.

“Warnings should not also be given to the violators because we have been enforcing them for more than five months now, everybody should know by now about the curfew and other quarantine rules being enforced by the government,” he added.

Eleazar said community service and payment of fines would be beneficial to the Local Government Units as the accosted violators would be an additional manpower for programs and projects while the fund that would be generated from fines would be an additional income for the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) response and programs.

But he said the penalties for curfew and quarantine violations still depend on the local ordinances of the LGUs.

On Tuesday, the Philippine National Police issued a memorandum to police commanders that discourage them to impose physical punishments on accosted violators.

Local police commanders to mobilize barangay tanods and the city and municipal Public Order and Safety personnel for the enforcement of curfew that include setting up of barangay checkpoints and conduct of regular community patrol. All barangay checkpoints, however, must be supervised but not necessarily manned by policemen.

Based on the data of the JTF COVID Shield, more than 360,000 quarantine protocol violators, including curfew violators, have been accosted since March 17.

Eleazar said the JTF COVID Shield is now coordinating with incoming PNP Chief Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan for any possible additional measures that would be implemented by the PNP under his leadership.