A report from a netizen about a birthday party along a street in Taguig City led to the arrest of 16 people who were caught in the act of engaging in a drinking session.
It was the first police operation conducted since the Joint Task Force COVID Shield created a Facebook page to monitor and receive complaints of quarantine violations in the social media.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said the conduct of the operation was aided greatly by photos sent by a netizen to the task force’s Facebook account.
As soon as information about the location was sent by the netizen, the Police Sub-Station 9 commander of Taguig City Police Station, Lt. Wilfredo Tanquerido, was ordered to proceed to the area in order to verify the report.
Tanquerido’s group found the suspects who were then engaged in a drinking session at around 10:30 p.m. on Aguirre Street in Barangay Lower Bicutan.
“When police personnel (arrived) there, those who attended the birthday celebration were having a drinking session on the street which is a public place, (they were) not wearing face masks and not observing social distancing,” said Eleazar.
Nabbed were Ralph Cruz, 19; Nichole Cruz, 21; Michael Quijou, 21; Christian Pregil, 21; Paul Belarmino, 21; Ian Augala, 21; Enen Sison, 21; Jojo Angala, 39; Jackie Bosque, 37; Franz Pascua, 19; Monica Reyes, 19; Kevin John de Guzman, 23; Ivan Pacete, 21; Gabriel Inserto, 21;, Mark Anthony Ortigas, 21; and a 17-year old female.
Eleazar said all those accosted were taken to the basketball court of the barangay which serves as a holding area for quarantine violators, and were released after six hours.
They will be charged with violation of the Taguig City Ordinance Number 27-89 (Drinking in Public Places) and violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (Resistance and Disobedience to a Person in Authority).
The operation was conducted a day after the JTF COVID Shield activated its Facebook account in order to facilitate the monitoring of viral photos and videos in the social media and receiving complaints of photos and videos of quarantine violations.
“The operation in Taguig City is a proof of what we as a country could achieve in terms of protecting public health if we would all work together to protect ourselves and our community from the coronavirus,” said Eleazar.
The Taguig operation became a vindication to the JTF COVID Shield, especially Eleazar who was criticized for his decision to monitor social media for quarantine violations in the community like drinking sessions, large birthday parties and even illegal gambling.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año defended last week the decision of the JTF COVID Shield to monitor social media for quarantine violations. He also urged the netizens to help the government enforce the quarantine rules, saying they are also in the better position to monitor social media for violations of protocols in their respective communities.
“We encourage the public to take photos and videos of violations of quarantine protocols and then upload them. We assure them that we will take action because this is a matter of protecting public health,” said Año.
PNP Chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan emphasized the barangay-level enforcement of the quarantine protocols, saying that good coordination between the police and the barangay officials could lead to effective prevention of the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).