OBSERVE SOCIAL DISTANCING. Personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) remind the public of safe physical distancing measures as crowds flock to Manila Bay on Sunday (Sept. 20, 2020). A portion of the coastline has been opened to the public over the weekend. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)
MANILA – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said he will talk with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu after a huge crowd failed to observe physical distancing during the opening of the artificial white sand beach of Manila Bay on Sunday.
“I will discuss it first with Secretary Cimatu kung ano pa ‘yung magiging course of action namin dito. We will also really check what went wrong. For now, mahirap kasing magsalita muna but somehow, ‘yun muna ang actions na ginawa ko (on what course of action will be taken. We will also really check what went wrong. For now, it’s difficult to comment but somehow, that’s my first action),” he said in a television interview on Monday.
He said people are really expected to flock the Manila Bay’s “white beach” made of crushed dolomite.
“Siguro dahil sa tagal ng lockdown, the people wanted to go to the beach. Nakita nila ‘yung Manila Bay, binuksan for a while, for two days, at gusto nilang makita by their own eyes (Perhaps due to months of lockdown, the people wanted to go to the beach. They learned Manila Bay was opened for two days, they wanted to see with their own eyes),” Año said.
Año said authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government unit (LGU) should have made enough preparation to enforce minimum health standards.
“Dapat mas maraming pulis na dineploy saka kailangan din diyan naglagay tayo ng barriers. Of course the Manila LGU, siyempre dapat talaga nakapag-prepare tayo dito (More policemen should have been deployed and put barriers. Of course, the Manila LGU should have also made preparation),” he said.
He reminded the public that Metro Manila remains under the general community quarantine and that they should always follow the health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
PNP chief Camilo Cascolan said crowd management is not the sole responsibility of the police.
“I would like to be frank, hindi lang pulis ang may kasalanan dito, lahat po tayo hindi ba. Dapat matuto tayo (it’s not only the fault of the police, all of us should take the blame. We should learn from this),” he said. “We always follow the rule of law and when we follow the rule of law we have no choice, it’s command responsibility and I emphasize command responsibility during my first speech.”
Ermita Police Station commander Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan was relieved from his post over the police’s failure to implement strict health safety measures.
Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Caramoan could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there were prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area as well as close coordination with the local government unit.
“Clearly, he also failed to comply with the JTF Covid Shield order that was coordinated with the chief PNP for all police commanders to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral in the social media,” he said in a statement. (PNA)