MANILA - Authorities have arrested some 20,389 curfew violators as Luzon and other areas were placed on lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, police said Thursday.
Those arrested were among Of 75,750 violators accosted nationwide from March 17 until April 1, police data showed. Majority or 51,474 were given warnings, while 3,887 were fined, according to Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield.
The task force earlier set guidelines on the arrest of curfew violators such as that they should not be subjected to physical punishment and that they must be held for 12 hours while "being admonished so as to deter them from repeating the offense" if the filing of the case against them will be deferred after the quarantine.
President Rodrigo Duterte has also ordered the task force to assist in the distribution of financial aid to poor families affected by the month-long Luzon lockdown.
"The goal here is to ensure the security of local social workers tasked to distribute the cash assistance while ensuring that the rules on social distancing and home quarantine are strictly observed," said Police Lt. Gen Guillermo Eleazar, head of JTF COVID Shield.
"We appeal to the public to remain in their houses and observe patience while waiting for the distribution of the cash assistance to help them cope with the adverse effects brought by this pandemic."
Eleazar warned groups supposedly spreading misinformation and "agitating" the public to obey quarantine rules, following a protest in Quezon City on Wednesday which led to the arrest of several residents who said they only wanted to ask for food. They were later released on the request of the city government.
Hours after the incident, Duterte made a public address where he ordered state troops to shoot dead those who would cause trouble while in quarantine.
"We will use the full force of the law to make sure that you will pay for any of your action that will compromise the security and health safety of not only the DSWD and PNP personnel, but also the people in the community," Eleazar said.
"This is not the time for selfishness and other interests. Let us work together to help our kababayan who are in dire need of government assistance in this time crisis."
--With reports from Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News