Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), ordered on Monday, April 12, all policemen to refrain from arresting violators of the health safety protocols as the authorities continue to implement strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVI-19).
At the same time, PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said Sinas also tasked police commanders to refrain from accepting referral or turnover of quarantine violators of the barangay security officers and officials to the police stations.
“Our Chief PNP just wanted to warn the violators and remind them of the need to follow the minimum health safety protocol but in case of repeat offenders, they could be fined or render community service. So the instruction is clear, violators should not be arrested,” said
Usana explained that arresting or filing charges against quarantine violators is impractical since violators would have to be brought to the police or station.
In the case of those who violate the uniform curfew hours which was adjusted from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Usana said the penalties that would be imposed on the violators should be settled at the barangay level.
He added that only violations of the existing laws relating to peace and order and criminal activities should be attended to by the police in the police stations.
The PNP apparently learned its lesson on the incident in General Trias, Cavite wherein one of the eight violators who were turned over to the police station died after two policemen forced them to do strenuous physical exercises.
The chief of police of General Trias, as well as the two policemen involved, were sacked from their posts. The two policemen who ordered the physical exercise are also facing criminal and administrative charges.
Based on the PNP data, a total of 37,275 violators were accosted in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite since March 29 when the four areas were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Of the figure, a total of 21,897 were warned, a total of 13,924 were fined and a total of 1,454 violators were subjected to community service.