MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday urged the public to heed the Luzon quarantine regulations to avoid violence like what happened in Quezon City.
“Ang primary consideration is health. We know lahat naman nangangailangan ng tulong but ang pakiusap lang naman ng kapulisan para hindi tayo humantong sa kung anong nangyari sa Quezon City, we just do it in a very orderly and peaceful manner. Maghintay, magkaroon ng pasensiya para ‘di magkaroon ng gulo,” said PNP Chief Archie Gamboa.
On Wednesday, authorities dispersed a protest rally by a group of Quezon City residents from Sitio San Roque in Barangay Pag-Asa for violating the Luzon quarantine. The group said they were out of work and had not received food aid.
Hours after the dispersal, President Rodrigo Duterte accused leftist groups of stirring public sentiment against the government during the COVID-19 crisis, saying he would not hesitate to order authorities to "shoot them dead."
Gamboa had said police officers would not follow the President's order and defended the remark simply as a "strong message."
“Kung nandoon ang threat sa PNP, we will apply equal force. Kung meron silang baril, meron rin kaming baril. Ayun ang dulo ng sinabi niyang ‘shoot them dead’. Hindi ibig sabihin kapag may nakita ka barilin mo agad. There are qualifiers which is in accordance with PNP police operation," he said.
Gamboa said the PNP only wants to maintain order particularly in this time of crisis where mass gathering is not allowed and physical distancing should be followed.
“Ang sa amin lang, organized ‘yan, orderly kaya nga ini-encourage natin na kung pwede idaan n'yo sa barangay, sa local governnent units para maging organisado. Meron tayong ipinatutupad na bawal ang mass gathering at very important 'yung social distancing, dinagdagan nga ng Inter-Agency Task Force dapat may mask na,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gamboa said the PNP struck down at least 127 checkpoints in Luzon to avoid confusion and to ease the travel of those who need to move during the Luzon lockdown.
“Pag national highways PNP lang ang mag-checkpoint. Aam natin aggressiveness ng ibang LGUs and they have to be constantly reminded by DILG kung ano ang limitation,” he said.
There are now 2,633 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines and 107 deaths, the Department of Health said on Thursday.