MANILA – Police officers will prioritize protecting the public’s health over interests of private individuals amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the country’s top cop said Wednesday.
“Remember, as much as possible, (the) primary consideration (of the) government is public health and (if we implement this), in a way, (there are) transgressions into private life through checkpoints,” Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa told reporters on the sidelines of the inspection of some quarantine control points (QCPs) in Metro Manila.
He, meanwhile, assured the public that police officers are constantly reminded not to “blatantly” disregard privacy rights of an individual.
He also appealed for understanding as the situation now is entirely different.
“In usual checkpoints, you cannot even ask searching questions. But for the interest now of public health, we now have the power to inquire at least kung authorized ba ‘yung mga trabaho (if the jobs are really authorized),” he added.
Gamboa, meanwhile, said from an average of 8,000 violators per day, he said this declined to only 300 due to stricter enforcement of quarantine measures.
“Maybe na-appreciate talaga ng publiko kung bakit ginagawa itong quarantine measures (Maybe the public has started appreciating why we are enforcing the quarantine measures),” he added.
However, Gamboa reiterated that the police would immediately arrest violators.
“No more excuses, no more stories, if there is a violation, then we will charge you ahead,” Gamboa warned.
Gamboa assured that police would file a case against the violators either in accordance with ordinances or violations of national laws.
The PNP, together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and security troops, has been tapped to strictly implement the rules and regulations of the strict quarantine.
At the same time, Gamboa defended the policemen who tried to arrest the foreigner named Javier Parra.
Gamboa, who is also a lawyer, said the basis for the arrest was disobedience based on the Revised Penal Code, Gamboa said.
He said police officers have the right to arrest someone who is misbehaving and disrespecting authority.
When someone is starting to misbehave and disrespect authority, the PNP personnel has always the right to make arrest, Gamboa explained.
“Hindi ka talaga madala sa pakiusap dahil nagmamatigas ka (If you cannot be swayed with gentle reminders and you are resisting) you start to violate the law, then we all have the reason to arrest you,” Gamboa said.
He added that the PNP will defend its personnel who are properly doing their jobs. (PNA)