Cops round up people in Manila based on spurious window hour advisory

Lian Buan
Cops round up people in Manila based on spurious window hour advisory
The window hour advisory is disowned by the PNP and the IAFT Saturday night, March 21

MANILA, Philippines – Cops rounded up dozens of people in Manila Saturday afternoon, March 21, using a spurious police advisory as confusion led to the increase of apprehensions after Luzon was put on lockdown to contain the coronavirus.

The latest source of irritant was a bogus advisory about “window hours”. The Philippine National Police (PNP) has disowned this advisory, but cops on patrol still accosted individuals using the fake information. 

Paolo Alfonso was on his way home from buying food when he was stopped by cops at the foot of the Bacood-Mandaluyong Bridge in Manila. Alfonso said more than 30 people were rounded up around 5 pm Saturday.

Around 7:30 pm, PNP Spokesperson Major General Benigno Durana sent a message to reporters with another graphic disowning the phoney “window hour” advisory.

At 9:30 pm, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, senior member of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) said: “Walang ganyang ka-specific guidelines na galing sa IATF. That is unauthorized.”

(There are no IATF guidelines as specific as that. That is unauthorized.)

The cops who apprehended Alfonso’s group showed the fake graphic advisory from a phone identifying window hours for going outside. In the bogus advisory, 2-5 pm was “travel ban” misspelled as “travel van” in the graphic.

The apprehending police invoked the spurious advisory as the basis for hauling Alfonso and the rest.

Alfonso said he told the cops he has not heard of an official “window hour” advisory. The apprehending police brushed aside his arguments and told him to just follow the rules. (READ: Luzon lockdown: What are the do’s and don’ts?)

“Ang nakakatakot dun may isang senior citizen na nakikipagtalo. Tinatakot siya na huhulihin,” Alfonso said in a phone interview with Rappler Saturday night.

(What’s scary was that there was a senior citizen who was arguing with cops. He was threatened with arrest.)

The erroneous graphic advisory said the public was allowed to go out between 5 to 8 pm. Alfonso’s group pointed this out when the clock struck 5 pm.

Palabas na kami hinarang pa kami ulit na kinakausap pa namin kayo,” (We were about to leave, when the cops stopped us and said they were still talking with us.) said Alfonso. 

“(The PNP) said they will relay this to the local units to prevent further reliance on this (spurious advisory) for arrests,” said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete.

Window hours have been a major source of confusion, with the PNP saying Local Government Units (LGUs) may enforce their own window hours. The city of Manila  does not have one, Mayor Isko Moreno has clarified.

Held at the station for an hour

In Pasig, police held over a dozen people at the station for over an hour around 4:30 pm for not having quarantine passes.

One person in the group talked to Rappler, but asked not to reveal his identity.

The person was buying food at one of the stores in Barangay Napico-Manggahan when he was approached by a cop.

“Ang approach sa akin hinawakan na ko sa balikat then ‘yun pinasakay kami sa police mobile, 13 kami, ang issue namin dun sabi ko social distancing, pero pinuno nila kami sa mobile. Nung nasa istasyon pinag kumpol kumpol kami,” said the source.

(The cop approached me and held my shoulders. Then they made us ride the police mobile, all 13 of us. My issue there was, there was supposed to be social distancing, but the mobile was full. At the station we were also crowded.)

They told the police their barangay officials have not issued passes yet. When the cops escorted them to the barangay hall, they were then told there were not enough printed passes for everyone.

The barangay made them sign their names on a piece of paper. They were told cops would check their names to see if they have been arrested the previous night. Curfew in Pasig is only from 8 pm to 5 am.

“Kung 2nd offense na raw namin, ikukulong na kami at magbayad ng P50,000 (We were told that if it was our 2nd offense, we would be jailed and we would pay P50,000),” said the source.

They were released around 6 pm.

Offices of courts and prosecutors have been physically closed down nationwide, but they are on-call for urgent matters. Even so, it means those who will be arrested and detained will not have an immediate access to legal redress. – Rappler.com 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.