MANILA – Violators of enhanced community quarantine rules cannot just get away with their infractions as proceedings for filing of cases are ongoing, a ranking police official said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield), reminded the public that filing of cases is possible despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) through the electronic inquest or e-inquest of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Kung sa tingin ng ating mga pasaway na kababayan na makakalusot sila dahil sa kanilang akala na sarado ang mga Prosecutor Office, nagkakamali sila. Mayroon tayong ‘e-inquest’ na ang ibig sabihin ay makakasuhan pa rin sila dahil sa kanilang paglabag sa batas at sa mga panuntunan ng ECQ (If our hard-headed fellowmen think that they can get away with their violations because prosecutor offices are closed, they are wrong. We have an e-inquest which means they can still be charged for their violations of the law and ECQ rules),” Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters.
Under the terms of the e-inquest, those arrested for curfew and other guidelines for the ECQ would be taken to the police stations where they would be presented to government prosecutors using various applications that offer video chat or video conference.
Violators who are charged, however, cannot post bail since courts are “physically closed” as a result of the ECQ.
“We have an online inquest but there is no online detention. This means that they have to stay in jail until the courts reopen to process their bail,” said Eleazar.
Based on the latest JTF CV Shield data, 108,088 quarantine violators have been accosted from March 17 up to April 12.
Of the figure, 71.23 percent of them, or a total of 76,989 were just warned while a total of 4,969 were fined.
On the other hand, a total of 5,539 of them were formally charged while 20,591 are set to be slapped with charges.
He said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, has already ordered police commanders to coordinate with the DOJ to strengthen the ‘e-inquest’ procedures, starting off with ensuring strong internet connection.
Gamboa also directed all police commanders to ensure the safety and welfare of their men in dealing with curfew violators and in the conduct of various operations and other law enforcement functions.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said the e-inquest has been proven effective in Quezon City and other cities across the country.
He added that the online inquest may be undertaken through any internet platform based on the basic requirements of procedures and to be undertaken with close coordination between law enforcement agencies and offices of the prosecutors.
“We need to maximize the e-inquest especially that the ECQ was already extended. We will work together with the PNP, especially at the level of the police stations where the filing of charges happen. We will also check the capability on our side,” Malcontento said.
Eleazar particularly directed his warnings to repeat offenders or those who were already accosted but were just warned not to repeat violating the home quarantine and social distancing rules.
Aside from the curfew violators, Eleazar expounded that the ‘e-inquest’ is also intended for other violations such as hoarding, profiteering, manipulation of prices of basic commodities and medical supplies and those who violate the ban on public transport.
Eleazar said that since the start of the lockdown, a total of 8,068 public utility vehicles (PUVs) were apprehended.
He, however, clarified that transportation that serves the front-line workers and other functions such as the delivery of medical equipment is exempted. (PNA)