Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Eleazar has sacked Quezon City Station 3 commander Lieutenant Colonel Cristine Tabdi for giving State of the Nation Address (SONA) duties to 51 cops who tested positive for COVID-19.
Eleazar said in a statement on Thursday, July 29, that he ordered the administrative relief of Tabdi for command responsibility following the gaffe.
“In view of the apparent breach of protocol when most of these PNP personnel were deployed for SONA duties even if they were still waiting for their RT-PCR results, I have already ordered the administrative relief of the Station Commander, Police Station 3 of the QCPD, for command responsibility,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar said that the recent incident should serve as a reminder for police officers to follow proper protocols.
“This should serve as a reminder to all our commanders to exercise prudence and to strictly abide with our existing protocols amid the serious threat of COVID-19, especially with the rising number of infections from the Delta variant,” the PNP chief added.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosaro Vergeire said there was a breach in protocol when the cops were deployed. She said that they should not had been deployed if they didn’t know their test results.
Exactly two days after the SONA, the Quezon City City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) said that 82 cops of the Quezon City Talipapa station tested positive for the virus. QCPD director Police Brigadier General Antonio Yarra said that among the COVID-19 positive cops, 51 were deployed for SONA duties.
The cops were tested on July 23 while their test results were released after the SONA, on July 27 and 28.
It is still unclear how the cops were deployed even if they were still waiting for their test results.
On Wednesday night, July 28, the Quezon City government said that based on the joint investigation of the QCPD and the Talipapa station, the COVID-19 positive cops had no direct interaction with the public on SONA day.
Contact tracing ordered
Eleazar said the PNP started contact tracing to determine the close contacts of the infected cops. He said that around 167 cops were already tested and awaited their results.
The PNP chief also called on the public to stop speculating about the incident, particularly if the cops were infected with the more virulent Delta variant of COVID-19.
“Hindi pa natin alam kung Delta variant ang tumama sa aming mga kasamahan sa QCPD kaya nakikiusap tayo sa ating mga kababayan na iwasan ang mga espekulasyon tungkol dito,” he said.
(We don’t know yet if the Delta variant hit our colleagues in the QCPD so I ask our fellow Filipinos to stop speculating about the incident.)
More than half of the infected cops were brought to the quarantine facilities on Tuesday, and the rest on Wednesday. – Rappler.com