PNP says no more arrests of quarantine violators during MECQ

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said they would stop arresting quarantine violators in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting Monday, April 12.

"In fact, sabi nga po ng ating chief PNP, walang arrest. 'Yung compassion kind of enforcement should be handled well.... Dapat hindi tayo ang magiging dahilan kung bakit nahihirapan ang ating mamamayan," PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana said during a press conference Monday.

(In fact, our PNP chief said no arrests would be made. The compassion kind of enforcement should be handled well. We should not be the reason for our citizens' suffering.)

This comes after the recent deaths of two men who were punished by law enforcers for violating enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) rules.

Usana explained that in the previous implementation of ECQ rules, there were three layers of punishment for quarantine violators:

  • First offense: Warning
  • Second offense: Fine
  • Third offense: Imprisonment or imprisonment with fines

But in the new PNP order, Usana said no arrests and no complaints would be filed against violators. 

"And yet the chief PNP required na 'Wag na kayong mang-aresto, 'wag na kayo magsampa ng kaso' (And yet the chief PNP required that 'Don't arrest anyone, don't file complaints') because it might be counterproductive also to our people," Usana added. 

Usana said violators would instead receive warnings or tickets. In the event that barangay tanods (village guards) arrested violators and transferred them to the police, cops must immediately release them.

"Pero ang requirement po, right there and then, ire-release na po sila after po silang mapa-warningan. Kung hindi man po, may pagbabayad na multa (But the requirement is, right there and then, they should be released after the warning, or they should pay a fine)," Usana added. 

ECQ casualties

During the two-week implementation of ECQ in the so-called "NCR Plus," two quarantine violators died in the hands of law enforcers.

On April 3, 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo died in General Trias, Cavite, after being forced to do 300 rounds of squats as a curfew punishment.

Seven days later, on April 10, 26-year-old Ernanie Jimenez was reportedly beaten to death by the village guards in Barangay Turbina in Calamba City, Laguna. The police said he was repeatedly beaten.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier recommended that those caught violating quarantine rules be subjected to community service only and not arrest or detention. – Rappler.com