MANILA – The Philippine National Police on Saturday disowned graphics showing window hours when residents are supposedly allowed to go out of their houses, Department of Justice spokesperson Usec. Markk Perete told reporters.
The graphics showed several times during the day when residents can get out to buy or step out of their houses – from 5 to 8 a.m., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m. The rest of the day are supposedly subject to a travel ban while 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. is designated as curfew hours.
One portion of the graphics misspelled “travel ban” to “travel van.”
It bears the logos of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of Health, among other agencies.
Several accounts online said the graphics was used by police officers in calling the attention and even arresting some citizens who were outdoors during the supposed travel ban period.
Perete said once the graphics was brought to their attention at the Department of Justice and they immediately brought it up with the Inter-Agency Task Force.
In response, the PNP came up with their own graphics saying “This is not authorized by the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield-Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.”
“The PNP issued the clarification…They said they will relay this to the local units to prevent further reliance on this for arrests,” Perete said in an exchange of messages with reporters.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the IATF did not provide for very detailed guidelines.
“Walang ganyang ka-specific guidelines na galing sa IATF. That is unauthorized,” he said.
DOJ officials are unable to say where exactly the graphics came from but Guevarra said “very likely sa LGU (local government units) yan,” describing it as “ultra vires” or beyond their authority.
But immediately after ABS-CBN News shared on Twitter the PNP-issued disclaimer, various Twitter users sent pictures of issuances based either on the unauthorized graphics or officially issued by the LGUs implementing a “window hours” scheme.
Two Twitter users showed the exact unauthorized graphics printed on a leaflet allegedly handed to them by their own barangay captains just a few moments after ABS-CBN News’ post.
A Facebook post meanwhile of a barangay kagawad in Quezon City showed the exact same schedule in the disowned graphics.
Other users sent a photo of leaflets distributed in Pateros town in Metro Manila and in Barangay Santolan in Pasig limiting the hours for buying food from 5 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m.
The municipality of Daet in Camarines, Norte, meanwhile, imposed a 7-10 a.m. and 2-5 p.m. schedule for use of home quarantine pass, with some barangays alternating allowed to use the pass on alternating dates.
A home quarantine pass is issued to only 1 member of the household who is authorized to go out of the house to buy food, medicine and other essential supplies.
In Barangay Maharlika in San Pedro, Laguna, the pass can only be used from 5am to 12 noon.
Some Twitter users have questioned the logic behind the window hours, saying this will mean more people out in the same place at the same time, contrary to the social distancing policy being encouraged by the government to help combat the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.
Asked about these various issuances, Perete said “further measures to ensure uniform and easy implementation are being discussed.”
“I have noted your discussion above. Will do something about it,” Guevarra said, in response to queries from reporters about what led to confusion about the implementation of the travel ban.
One unresolved issue is whether LGUs can still impose their own curfews.
Some IATF officials have said the Enhanced Community Quarantine imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night effectively superseded the curfews since people will no longer be allowed to step out of their houses at any given time except to buy food, medicine and other essential goods.
But several LGUs continue to impose their own curfews from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.