QUARANTINE CHECKPOINT. A barangay personnel inspects the quarantine pass of residents before they are allowed to pass Kaliraya Street in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City on Aug. 21, 2020. Most villages in the country still require quarantine passes even under a less strict general community quarantine. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)
MANILA – The number of community quarantine violators has reached 338,294, prompting the Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield to ask the local government units (LGUs), particularly barangays, to intensify implementation of restrictions against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“As barangay tanods, you are the designated law enforcers in your respective barangays to maintain peace and order. And in this time of pandemic when the national government needs all the help that it could get, they could expand their mandate to include the enforcement of the quarantine rules,” JTF Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said on Monday
Some 149,653 violators, he said, had been warned, 96,043 had been fined, and 92,598 had been charged since lockdowns were implemented to contain the virus in the middle of March this year.
He said 198,394 violators were from Luzon, while 74,871 were from the Visayas, and 65,029 were from Mindanao.
Police personnel in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry also arrested 974 suspects responsible for hoarding, and profiteering or manipulating prices of essential goods as of Aug. 22.
All violators who were arrested since March 17 were dealt with based on the anti-Covid-19 ordinances of the LGUs, Eleazar said.
Common quarantine violations are unnecessary travels and non-compliance with minimum health safety standard protocols, such as wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing. He added that the task force also continues to receive reports of drinking sessions, holding and attending parties, even gambling.
“The success and failure of our fight against Covid-19 depend on the cooperation of our kababayans. The more they defy and challenge the rules set by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the more they make it difficult for our government to protect them,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar said barangay tanods especially in Metro Manila where the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is expected to be implemented, could set up checkpoints within their barangay and could conduct regular community patrol in order to compel local residents to observe the minimum health safety standards.
In coordination of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Eleazar said the anti-Covid activities of the barangay tanods, especially the setting up of checkpoints in the interior roads, could be set up but in coordination with the local police stations through the active role of the Quarantine Rules Supervisors (QRS), or the PNP’s Covid Focal Persons in the barangays.
Policemen may not be physically present in the barangay checkpoints but the checkpoints must be supervised by members of the local police station.
The JTF Covid Shield earlier tasked all police commanders to designate QRS in more than 42,000 barangays of the country who will enforce the observance of minimum health safety standards at the barangay level.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier emphasized the importance of the active participation of the barangays in the fight against the Covid-19, saying the police and the military personnel are not enough to cover the entire population.
Año said that barangay tanods are a formidable reinforcement of the national government in the implementation of the quarantine rules amid the continuous rise of Covid-19 cases in the country. (PNA)