MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday, April 20, cleared of any violation the 4 policemen who stormed the posh Pacific Plaza Tower condominium complex at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City and allegedly acted aggressively to enforce quarantine guidelines.
This was confirmed to Rappler in a text message by PNP Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, who said that the investigation was conducted by the Taguig City Police Office.
In a separate text message to Rappler, Taguig City police chief Colonel Celso Rodriguez said the cops have been cleared of any misconduct.
“The investigation is over, and there will be no cops who will be suspended. They deserve praise for what they did,” Rodriguez said.
What happened: On Sunday at around 4:30 pm, 4 cops – carrying firearms but without warrants – forced themselves into the high-end condominium complex.
According to a statement to residents by the building’s management, the cops entered the complex despite the initial refusal of the security guards to let them in. The police threatened to arrest them if they continued to resist, the statement added.
Once inside, the cops shouted at residents who were by the pool, the statement added. The management said residents were following physical distancing procedures. They said there were children in the area.
Management said it was considering filing charges against the PNP, describing the incident as “extremely upsetting, clearly inappropriate and possibly illegal.”
The police narrative: According to Taguig police chief Rodriguez, they received a call from a Pacific Plaza resident who reported that residents were not following physical distancing guidelines and the national government’s order to wear face masks outdoors.
Citing the government’s guidelines, too, Rodriguez said common areas should be shut down because it allows public gatherings that can violate distancing measures.
Rodriguez was backed by the Taguig City local government, which said in a statement on Sunday that lockdown rules “apply equally to all communities.”
In a text message to Rappler, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the police were simply “doing their job.”
No clear guidelines: Shutting down public areas are not in the rules issued by the Duterte government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against the coronavirus.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque himself stressed during a press briefing on Monday that “it is clear in our Constitution that our countrymen’s right to be secure in their houses, places, shall be inviolable.” He added that cops cannot enter private property if there is no crime, invitation, or search warrant.
But to the police, violating quarantine guidelines already means violating the law, citing the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and ordinances passed by local government units as their basis.
As of Monday, cops have arrested over 30,000 lockdown and curfew violators across the country. – 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.