MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) will man all entrance and exit points in Metro Manila during the implementation of a community quarantine, a ranking official said Friday.
PNP acting spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Benigno Durana Jr., said police would use equipment and follow protocols in the checkpoints and those allowed to enter Metro Manila will go through a stringent screening process.
However, the details on where and how many checkpoints will be set up have yet to be finalized.
“These are extraordinary measures of the government to prevent and protect and safeguard our citizens against this deadly virus,” Durana said in a radio interview.
He said maximum tolerance would be enforced but public good would be prioritized “if the action of some people would endanger the health of others”.
Durana said the joint task force led by the PNP conducted a closed-door meeting Friday at its national headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City to iron out the details of the community quarantine which will start on Sunday.
Aside from the PNP, the members of the JTF include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“‘Yung ating ibat-ibang police precincts lalo sa Metro Manila ay nag-preposition na ng mga assets, kagamitan at tauhan para i-enforce ‘yung community quarantine by March 15. Sa ngayon, ‘yung joint AFP, PNP at Coast Guard joint plan at yung mga guidelines at protocols kung paano ito ipapatupad ay fina-finalize sa NHQ (Different police precincts in Metro Manila have started prepositioning assets, equipment and personnel to enforce the community quarantine by March 15. Right now, the joint AFP, PNP and Coast Guard joint plan, including the guidelines and protocols on how this will be implemented are being finalized at the NHQ),” said Durana.
He said the local chief executives, especially at the barangay level, will be of great help in implementing these measures of the national government.
While he did not provide concrete details on these matters, Durana said the Joint Task Force will likely follow the PNP’s police operational procedures in conducting checkpoints.
According to Rule 20 of the PNP’s Revised Police Operational Procedures, the establishment of checkpoints “must always be authorized by the PNP and manned by uniformed PNP personnel assigned in the area.” However, no information was indicated as to the number of personnel needed in every checkpoint.
“We can win this fight against COVID-19 kung ang bawat isa ay makipagtulungan para sa best interest and safety of our citizens (if each of us will cooperate for the best interest and safety of our citizens,” he added.
Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the PNP and the villages have been directed to continue keeping students out of malls, cinemas, and other crowded places.
“The suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila is extended until April 12, 2020, with students remaining in their respective homes for the said duration,” Malaya said in a statement.
He said mass gatherings, defined as events where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, shall be prohibited across the country during the aforesaid period.
He said community quarantine is imposed in the entire Metro Manila.
LGUs should coordinate with the DILG and the Department of Health (DOH) before the imposition of the quarantine, Malaya said.
Malaya added that the law enforcement agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP, will continue in full operation.
Health and emergency frontline services will also continue, Malaya said.
“In addition, LGUs outside of the National Capital Region are advised to exercise sound discretion in suspending classes in their respective localities,” he said.
Moreover, Malaya said, the Office of the President would still issue guidelines to give details on the Presidential directive.
“These are the salient features of the measures he has approved. To be clear, and to allay the fears and apprehension of the public, the government is essentially calling for stricter implementation of preventive measures in order to slow down and put a halt to the further spread of Covid-19,” he added. (PNA)