MANILA - Arresting quarantine violators and putting them in already congested jails is a great challenge for the police considering the possible health risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Should you implement it and get sick in jail? That’s why we are encouraging LGUs (local government units) to enact ordinances so that prosecutions could be very fast, punishment could be very fast,” Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa said Thursday.
On ANC, Gamboa said fines or community service can serve as punishment instead of detention to help decongest jails.
“Ang sa akin i-punish to a certain degree para maintindihan lang ng tao kasi nga kung ire-regular filing nating lahat talagang mapupuno," he said.
COVID-19 has spread even to prisons in Metro Manila and in Cebu, infecting several inmates and jail personnel.
The spread of the virus in jails has also prompted calls for the early release of qualified prisoners.
“But what do we do? Ano ba uunahin natin hindi tayo manghuhuli? Pabayaan natin, defeating the purpose? Pero kami, of course, we consider health but ang pinaka-primary consideration namin is imposition of the quarantine measures,” Gamboa said.
Since the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine, Gamboa said around 32,000 violators have been charged in court.
He added that 6,000 violators were fined and 7,251 are still detained for inquest and the others are for regular filing.
On Tuesday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año warned that those who continue to violate the ECQ 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.
Gamboa said they continue to ask for people’s cooperation.
“If everybody cooperates mas marami tayong maso-solve na problema hindi maiipon sa jail, magkasakit doon,” he said.