MANILA— The country’s top cop on Saturday said policemen may not enforce physical exercise to quarantine violators as only courts or local government units may impose penalties or fines.
Newly installed Philippine National Police chief Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police force continues to remind unit commanders that quarantine violators must go through the right process.
“Hindi tayo pwedeng magbigay ng penalty. Only the court can give the penalty or in the case of the LGUs, itong mga fines, mga multa nila. So hindi pwedeng pag-exercisin 'yan. Hindi pwedeng bigyan ng anumang punishment 'yan,” said Eleazar, former Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander.
(We cannot impose a penalty. Only the court can give penalty, or in the case of the LGUs, fines. So we don’t allow physical exercise, we can’t give other punishments.)
Eleazar has just been named as the 6th PNP chief under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term. He will be serving as head of the 220,000 strong police force for about 6 months until Nov. 13, when he reaches the PNP’s mandatory retirement age of 56.
“Sisiguraduhin po natin 'yan at mananagot ang ating unit commanders 'pag nilabag nila 'yan kaya magpapatawag ako ng command conference mamaya para ulitin itong mga dati pa na patakaran na,” he said in an interview on TeleRadyo on Saturday morning.
We will make sure of that and unit commanders would be answerable if they violate this that’s why I am calling for a command conference later today to reiterate these old guidelines.)
The death of Darren Peñaredondo of General Trias, Cavite went viral on social media as he was allegedly made to do 300 rounds of pumping exercise after being found outside during curfew hours along with 7 other people.
Eleazer said quarantine violators will be penalized with the right sanctions, based on local ordinances and guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response.
“Sa unang offense, fine o multa, pangalawa maaring doon na po file-an ng kaso. Maari sa ibang ordinansa, sa unang offense ay community service, 'yun po ang susundin,” he said.
(They can be fined for the first offense, and a case may be filed against them on the second offense. In other ordinances, first time violators may be made to do community service.)
Duterte recently ordered police to arrest people who do not wear their face masks as part of prevention protocol against COVID-19.
Eleazar said that from May 6 to 7, police accosted 14,800 violators, but only 1,001 were arrested.
One of Eleazar’s first orders as the new police chief is ensure that health protocols are observed.
“Mahigit isang taon na nating sinasabi ito, puro pakiusap tayo sa punto na ayaw na nating mag-arestuhan. Subalit kung kinakailangan talaga after nating makausap, after nating mag-warning at talagang insisting pa rin sila, wala tayong magagawa kundi sila ay dalhin natin sa police station, bigyan ng lecture doon while observing the protocol at saka po sila pauwiin,” he said.
(We have been saying this for more than a year, we continue to remind them and we don’t want to arrest them. But after we talk to them and they continue to insist, we will be forced to bring them to the police.)
As of Friday, the Philippines has logged 1,087,885 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 66,626 active infections.
Meanwhile, Eleazar said he would still continue to go after rogue cops even during the pandemic.
“Hindi tayo magdadalawang-isip na tanggalin ang mga bugok na pulis natin dahil hindi natin sila kailangan dito at napakaraming gustong pumunta,” he said.
(We will not have second thoughts about removing rogue cops because we don’t need them here and many are willing to join the police.)
He said he relies on his chain of command— the 17 regional directors, the 81 provincial directors, 20 city directors and around 1,500 chiefs of police to do what is right.
“'Wag nilang hintayin na ako pa ang pumunta doon para mag-inspect doon. Pero gagawin ko pa rin 'yun, sisilip pa rin tayo doon pero gusto ko sila na manguna sa bawat area nila. Ayokong magaabuso, gusto kong gawin ang tama dahil 'yan ang ini-expect sa atin,” he said.
(Don’t wait for me to go there. But I will still check on them but I want them to lead in their area. I want them to do the right thing because that is what is being expected of us.)
On the issue of red tagging, Eleazar assured that the PNP would not make baseless accusations.
“Hindi ilegal na alamin namin ang background ng ibang tao, kasama po sa amin 'yun kaya kami po ang nata-task na magsagawa ng complete background investigation,” he said.
(It’s not illegal to find out the background of other people because that is part of our job and that’s why we are always tasked to make a complete background investigation.)
He assured that the PNP will only stick to its job.
“Ang bottomline dito hindi natin bigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga tao na mag-isip na sila po ba ay napupunta sa panganib,” he said.
The bottomline here is that we don’t give the people the impression that they are in danger.)
He said that anti-drug operations would likewise continue and stepped up even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hindi po titigil 'yun, kung pwede palalakasin pa natin itong ginagawa natin on running after high-value targets pero back to basic tayo.
At the end of the day, our campaign against illegal drugs will be measured on the barangays and communities that will be declared drug-cleared,” he said.
(We will not stop and if possible, strengthen our efforts in going after high-value targets but we go back to basics.)