The Philippine National Police (PNP) blamed the people who flocked to the Manila white sand beachfront for the relief of a Manila Police District (MPD) station commander last Sunday.
“I would like to be frank. It was not only the fault of the police, it was also the fault of everybody. We should all learn to follow the rule of law,” said PNP chief Police Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan over the relief of Police Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan, MPD Station 5 (Ermita) commander.
Caramoan was relieved for command responsibility when he failed to craft and implement plans to manage and control the people visiting the dolomite-covered portion of the Manila Bay since Saturday.
In relieving Caramoan, Cascolan emphasized that they followed the rule of law — which means that he has no choice but to sack him due to his apparent failure to act and react to the situation at the Manila Bay.
“Maybe you would say that we are wrong (in relieving Caramoan) but you must also reflect if you also committed mistakes –that the police commander would have not been relieved if you just did what is right,” said Cascolan.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano reminded Filipinos to avoid crowded places due to the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic after large crowds went to see the controversial artificial white sand beach at Manila Bay.
“I’d like to call on the public na sana ngayong nasa GCQ pa tayo tayo rin sana ang susunod sa minimum health standards (I’d like to call on the public that, while we are still under general community quarantine, to observe the minimum health standards),” he said during an interview over CNN Philippines.
“Pag nakita nating siksikan, on our own dapat wag na tayong pupunta (When we see crowds we should decide on our own not to go),” added Ano, who noted that white sand beach of Manila Bay could have been seen live online or through the media.
He expressed hope that those who visited the Manila Bay white beach despite the crowds remain alright.
“Sana naman pag-uwi ng ating mga kababayan okay pa rin sila (I hope when they got home they are still okay),” he said.
At the moment, Ano said the beach has been closed until probably the end of the year when Manila Bay rehabilitation will be completed.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said MPD District Director Police Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda put things in order at Manila Bay.
“The station commander did not make any initiative to address the problem. It was actually the District Director himself who resolved the issue. That is the reason why the Chief PNP approved the relief for command responsibility,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar said that as immediate area commander, Caramoan should have taken the initiative in planning and implementing strict security and health safety measures for the opening of the cleaned and beautified portion of the Manila Bay.
“He could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there was prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area,” the JTF COVID Shield said.
“Clearly, he also failed to comply with the JTF COVID Shield order that was coordinated with the Chief PNP for all police commanders to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral in the social media,” it added.
Hundreds of people went to Manila Bay Saturday during the partial opening to the public of the white sand beach which coincides with the International Coast Clean-up Day.
Photos and videos of blatant quarantine violation protocols of visitors went viral on social media.
Netizens called authorities to address the quarantine violations while some started sharing funny memes about having symptoms of COVID-19 after visiting the area.
The same scenario occurred when more people proceeded to the area the following day.
Caramoan was replaced by Police Lt. Col. Alex Daniel as officer-in-charge of the MPD Station 5.