MANILA - Interior and Local GovernmentSecretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday warned that those who continue to violate the enhanced community quarantine rules will be arrested.
“As of today, violators will be arrested. Mag prepare tayo ng malaking kulungan and let them suffer the inconvenience,” Año said on ANC.
Año said he spoke with Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa as soon as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered them to strictly implement the ECQ.
He said even the Special Action Force is now deployed to problem areas with the order to arrest anyone violating the quarantine rules.
“Kung pahintulatan, gusto natin nakakulong 'yan all throughout the quarantine para ’di na maparisan ng mga kababayan natin. It would save their lives. Yung isang pasaway mabuti nang hulihin sila kaysa mahawa pa siya o makapanghawa ng mga kasama nila,” he said.
Año said there are several laws and Republic Acts that authorities could use to charge violators depending on the circumstances.
“I leave it to the Philippine National Police. Of course, my guidance is huwag tayong mag-violate ng human rights. Impose nating sanctions, penalties in accordance with the Commission on Human Rights regulations and also in accordance to International Humanitarian laws,” he said.
Arrested violators could face up to 12 hours in detention, he said. However, if authorities pursue a case against an individual then that person could spend more than 12 hours in detention until the process goes through inquest proceedings.
The DILG chief said many people continue to disregard the quarantine order with just over a week left before the Luzon lockdown deadline. The entire Luzon was placed on an extended lockdown from April 12 to 30.
He said the public should follow minimum health precaution guidelines like wearing of masks and physical distancing before the ECQ is lifted.
“Sa ngayon naka ECQ na tayo pero ang mga tao hindi sumusunod sa pila, pumupunta sa palengke kaniya-kaniya sila doon. How much more kung walang ECQ? That’s why we need more presence of uniformed enforcers. That’s why nag-usap kami ni Sec. [Delfin] Lorenzana at nagdagdag tayo ng tropa mula sa Armed Forces of the Philippines sa mga area, mga converging areas,” he said.
Converging areas, he said, are those like private and public markets, groceries, urban poor communities, those living beside train railways.
“Doon sa mga high density areas kailangan ma-internalize ng mga kababayan na we are at the forefront of this battle, the individual person. The first defense should be ourselves,” he said.
He said a battalion is being prepared for deployment to augment forces from the PNP.
“We deploy so many policemen in Metro Manila to man checkpoints and ensure ECQ is followed by the people. Doon sa mga naka-deploy, may nakaready, standby sa AFP, na kung kailangan they can be dispatched immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that authorities have yet to come up with a recommendation to the president on whether to lift or ease the lockdown.
“It’s too early to make a recommendation. Meron pa tayong 9 days to go. Kailangan pa natin ng mas maraming data,” he said.
He added that they are still looking at 3 scenarios, either totally lifting the ECQ, expand it or opt for a modified lockdown.
The President met with health experts on Monday and they agreed that the lockdown has helped in slowing down the spread of the virus.
“Sila na rin nagsabi na kung ‘di nag lockdown ang pangulo baka aabot tayo sa 80,000 positive cases and possibly more than 5,000 deaths and probably aabot pa ito ng 12-M positive cases kung 'di tayo nag-lockdown. Na-understand nila na malaking toll sa ating economy kapag tuloy-tuloy yung lockdown at baka hindi tayo maka-recover kaya they are actually providing advices on how to do modified lockdown,” he said.
Año believes that the Philippines has already flattened the virus curve.
“Pero mas gusto natin to crush the curve, bumulusok talaga siya para ma-ensure natin na na-control natin pag spread ng virus,” he said.
He reiterated the need to increase the testing capacity by 50 percent. Currently, the Philippines is only at 10 percent of its testing capacity, he said.
“Kung aabutin natin 50 percent testing capacity that means 20,000 to 30,000 tests a day," he said.