Police commanders and their subordinates will “regularly monitor” social media to catch violators of community quarantine protocols, Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar announced on Saturday, September 5.
Eleazar said that this is upon orders of the police-led Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield, which he heads.
“Social media are full of photos and evidence of hardheaded people deliberately violating the quarantine protocols. These can be used as pieces of evidence to warn, to fine, and to summon the people concerned in coordination with the barangay officials concerned,” he said.
Cops will be looking out for “mass gathering for drinking sessions” and other “forms of celebration” that violate health safety protocols – photos and videos of which are posted on social media by people complaining about them, or the ones doing it themselves.
Those caught drinking will face more charges if there is a liquor ban in their locality, Eleazar said.
Another common violation easily spotted on social media is pillion riding on motorcycles, he added.
The police general noted there are Facebook pages that contain photos and videos of quarantine violations in the streets, captured by CCTV and dashboard cameras.
Eleazar urged “netizens” to report quarantine protocol violations – even those involving policemen – to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Newly installed PNP chief General Camilo Cascolan earlier said he would discipline any cop caught violating quarantine protocols.
“I will see to it that everybody who imposes or implements the law shall be disciplined, and should also follow the law they are implementing,” Cascolan said, as quoted in Eleazar’s statement.
More than 365,000 people have been warned, fined, or charged for violating quarantine rules since March 17, according to data from JTF COVID Shield.
But there were also those who were not reprimanded, like Metro Manila Police chief Major General Debold Sinas who drew controversy when he participated in a “mañanita” or a get-together for his birthday. This was when the entire Luzon was on lockdown and gatherings were strictly prohibited.
In August, viral social media posts alleged that then-PNP chief General Archie Gamboa held a party in Baguio City. Gamboa, who retired on September 2, denied the allegation, saying the event was just a “dinner.” – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.