MANILA - Police who will "abuse" motorists at checkpoints during Metro Manila's month-long community quarantine will face charges and may be dismissed from service, an Interior official said Saturday.
The Philippine National Police will implement a "one-strike policy" for personnel who will violate protocol in checkpoints, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told ANC shortly before the lockdown's first day.
"This is not the time for abuse. We will act decisively on reports of abuse," he said.
"If there is a violation of any of the existing protocols of the Philippine National Police, in so far as inspections and checkpoints are concerned, we will file charges against those police officers and that may cause their dismissal," he said.
Police, however, will not hesitate to arrest individuals who will refuse to comply with the community quarantine guidelines, Malaya said.
"The entire world is in the grip of a global pandemic and government has to enforce its police power so we may resort to arrests if needed in order to enforce this quarantine quickly," he said.
Some 20,000 police officials are expected to be deployed at Metro Manila's borders from March 15 to April 14 to limit the movement of possible carriers of COVID-19.
Police initially planned to check passengers one by one, but opted for a "softer approach" hours before Sunday midnight.
Authorities "were careful not to call it as a checkpoint, but as police visibility operations," ABS-CBN correspondent Kevin Manalo, who was reporting near the Valenzuela-Bulacan border said.
Malaya asked the public not to expect a "perfect" implementation of the Metro Manila lockdown, noting it was the first time in Philippine history that the country's most populous region and seat of power will be quarantined.
"Nothing is perfect... Our country has not faced this situation in our entire history," he said.
"They should anticipate long delays and bring a lot of patience because it is going to be an experience," he said.
The Metro Manila quarantine was adopted 3 days after the Philippines declared a state of public health emergency as local transmissions of COVID-19 were recorded in the capital region.
In the Philippines, 8 people have died, 2 recovered, while 101 others remain confined in hospitals due to the disease that originated from Wuhan, China.
The World Health Organization has described COVID-19 as a pandemic, killing over 5,000 people and infecting 142,000 globally.