MANILA – Police officers would only use yantok (rattan sticks) to enforce physical distancing in public places and when violators of quarantine protocols assault them or resist arrest, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday.
“The instruction for our social distance patrollers deployed in malls, markets, terminals, and train stations is they are required to carry a baton or yantok, whatever term you want. This will be used for social distancing to avoid contact because without it, the police would have to hold the violators,” PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas told reporters in a press conference held at Camp Crame.
Sinas reiterated that the rattan sticks would not be used to harm anyone.
“You see, we have rattan sticks because we have run out of baton. Baton measures only about one foot so we preferred a longer one which is rattan sticks to determine physical distance. It won’t be used to strike anyone. Also, if one turns out to be violent, we can use that to subdue them instead of shooting them,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Joint Task Force Covid Shield Commander, said rattan sticks are non-lethal weapons and could be used to arrest resisting quarantine violators.
He also added that violators would first be warned or fined based on the ordinances of the local government units (LGUs).
Citing latest data from the PNP, Binag said over 2,000 quarantine violators assaulted the police, prompting them to have the social distancing patrollers use rattan sticks against this kind of violators.
“Some 2,600 violators were related to direct assault. They attacked persons in authority. Of course, we cannot just let them hurt our police officers. We are duty-bound to enforce the law.
Binag said the number of police officers has been doubled in areas of public convergence such as markets, malls, churches, terminals, and ports where they would be tasked to conduct physical distancing patrols.
He added that chiefs of police are also tasked to coordinate with the management of establishments such as shopping centers to ensure the enforcement of health protocols in malls, especially this holiday season. (PNA)