MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) appealed to the public not to be afraid of policemen manning checkpoints in Metro Manila, which was placed under community quarantine beginning Sunday to contain the spread of the coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19).
“Our policemen are also taking risks by being on the frontline. So, we ask the public to respect us, and do not be afraid of us while we are performing our job. This is for the welfare of the general public,” said Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations, in a radio interview.
“What the government, through the PNP, is doing in this critical and trying time is to protect and impose our right to life. When life is at stake, all other rights are subordinate to it,” he added.
Based on the agreement with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-10, the police, augmented by the military, will be conducting checkpoints for the strict screening of the people, particularly those entering and exiting Metro Manila.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas on Sunday said they are still on the “warning mode” in the implementation of community quarantine in the entire National Capital Region.
“Kasi we are still on the warning mode, hindi tayo magi-implement ng higpit kaagad kasi nga we expect na lilinawin nga ng mga tao…When the time comes higpitan natin, maglalabas kami ng panibagong checklist or guidelines (We will not implement it drastically because we expect clarification from the people. When the time comes, we will be strict with new guidelines for the conduct of checkpoint),” Sinas said in a press conference at Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
“We do the maximum tolerance kung gusto mo pumasok hahayaan. Mamaya yan dahan-dahan na yan iiimplement na (If you want to enter, we will allow. We will slowly implement it),” he added.
Sinas said among the challenges they are facing is the lack of thermal scanners to check the temperatures of people as well as preventive equipment to ensure the safety of their personnel against the transmission of the virus.
The NCRPO has identified at least 56 exit and entry points in the entire Metro Manila.
Among those were in the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Valenzuela, particularly in the North Luzon Expressway, Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Paranaque, Marikina and Pasig.
Sinas said they are still assessing the situation on the ground to identify more areas where checkpoints are needed and what adjustments should be made for the safety of both the policemen and the public.
Eleazar said the NCRPO may have decided to become lenient so as not to add up to the panic by some people following reports that Metro Manila will be placed on community quarantine, which include reports that only workers in Metro Manila will be allowed entry.
He said there is a need to strictly follow the guidelines especially that thousands of people have started to flock Metro Manila to report to their respective jobs.
“The guideline, which our Chief PNP ordered to be crafted right after President Duterte’s announcement, was already cascaded to concerned commanders yesterday (Saturday). This guideline was well-thought of, based on the IATF recommendations and police experience, so it must be followed strictly in the soonest possible time,” said Eleazar.
He said the guideline must be followed from now on since non-compliance would defeat the purpose of the government’s action plan to contain the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Benigno Durana, head of the Directorate for Police and Community Relations (DPCR) and acting PNP spokesman, said at least 200 checkpoints have already been established in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
“There are 67 entry and exit points in Metro Manila and hopefully as the day progress, we would be able to cover all of them so that our community quarantine would be successful,” Durana said in a separate radio interview.
The PNP earlier declared a full alert status in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan” and Bicol Region. (PNA)