MANILA – There is no double standard in the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) rules amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) said Monday.
JTF CV Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar made the remark after some unit owners of the Pacific Plaza Condominium in Taguig City complained against policemen who entered the condominium’s premises without authorization and allegedly accosted residents there for quarantine violations on Sunday afternoon.
“The ECQ Guideline is plain and simple: Stay at home and observe social distancing when going out of your house– anytime, anywhere, and regardless of your social status. Thus, that condo residential place and the people living there are not exempted,” Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters.
He said the move shows that people, regardless of social status, can be arrested for violation of quarantine protocols.
“This is exactly the reason why we initiated a crackdown on private vehicles engaged in non-essential travels in the past days alongside with our aggressive operations against curfew violators,” Eleazar said.
As far as JTF CV Shield and the Philippine National Police are concerned, he said there is no difference between Unauthorized People Outside Residence (UPOR) walking or riding motorcycles on the streets to buy something in the public market and those on private vehicles queueing up to buy coffee at shops.
“We will both apprehend them for ECQ guideline violation,” Eleazar said.
In a statement, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said the operation stemmed from a call from the Taguig Mayor’s Office regarding a complaint on the continued operations of public amenities such as swimming pools inside the Avida Towers, Serendra and Pacific Plaza condominiums at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), which violate quarantine rules and social distancing measures.
Acting on the complaint, officers from the BGC Police Community Precinct (PCP) went to the area and requested for an incident report from the management of the three condominiums, to which Pacific Plaza refused to comply with.
This prompted PCP commander, Maj. Joseph Austria and his men to enter Pacific Plaza premises where they saw a number of persons hanging around the condominium’s swimming pool area. They requested everyone to leave the area and return to their units.
Austria informed the property manager of the strict implementation of ECQ related laws especially the wearing of masks and observance of social distancing which does not exempt private establishments like condominiums.
The property manager, however, talked back to Austria and insisted that their premises is Covid-19-free, hence, justifying the use of public amenities.
“The policemen are merely acting on the complaint from the City Hall. The violators are not excused nor exempted from the national directive to use face masks, observe social distancing and the like. Being law-enforcers we are merely implementing the directives because as we all know, that is a common area and we are putting the life of the people inside that community at risk. The policemen politely communicated their intention to inform the management and the residents to observe the law. They did not expect such a disrespectful treatment from the management,” said NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas.
The incident is now under investigation to determine the appropriate charges that may be filed against the management of the establishment for violation of ECQ-related laws.
Eleazar, meanwhile, said there was no gun-pointing incident that happened at the condominium and Austria will still be asked to explain and investigated as part of their standard operating procedures.
“The JTF CV Shield, however, urges the administrators of condominiums and subdivisions to observe home quarantine and social distancing at all times. Otherwise, we will not hesitate to enforce the law in your areas,” he added. (PNA)