MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be arresting coronavirus lockdown violators without warning, top cop General Archie Gamboa announced on Tuesday, April 21.
"There will be no more warning for ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) violators," Gamboa said in a Facebook live address.
He said arrest and inquest procedures will be applied to cases of violation of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
Violators can also face complaints for violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code or Resistance and Disobedience to Persons in Authority or Agents of Such Persons.
Why this matters: The police generally warn lockdown violators first before they proceed with fining or arresting lockdown violators.
The unequivocal change in policy comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said in a live address on April 16, that he would order the military and the police to "take over" the implementation of the lockdown if Filipinos continue to violate quarantine rules.
The police will also deploy some 116 troopers from the elite Special Action Force on Tuesday to help in the enforcement of the rules in Metro Manila, where most coronavirus cases are.
As of Monday, the PNP counts 136,517 lockdown violators since the lockdown began mid-March. Of that number, 31,363 have been arrested, 6,168 fined, and 98,986 issued warnings.
What are violations? Most of those arrests are people who violated curfew rules imposed by local government units through local ordinances and window hours enforced by barangays.
Police have used the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to file complaints, citing the guidelines crafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against the coronavirus. One of the recent rules adopted by the IATF is the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors.
Police had earlier warned and sent home residents who leave their homes for non-essential tasks like jogging or walking pets. With the new order, cops can immediately make arrests and pursue complaints on the basis of IATF's guidelines. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.