Police ‘VIP’ skipped Borongan coronavirus checkpoint: mayor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 07:48 AM | Updated as of Jun 18 2020 12:35 PM

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MANILA – A police official snubbed a checkpoint meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Borongan, Eastern Samar, its mayor said Thursday, baring another alleged quarantine breach by law enforcers.

Lt. Col. Joel Ana, a resident of the city who is assigned at the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) headquarters, was on board a white van and accompanied by 2 police motorcycles when he “bypassed” border control around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, said Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda.

“Hindi namin alam kung sinong VIP ang pumasok. This is our first time na maka-experience na may hagad,” Agda told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo. “Mayroong matataas na opisyal na pumupunta sa siyudad namin pero walang hagad na ganoon.”

(We did not immediately know who the VIP was. This is our first time to experience policemen moonlighting as escorts. Some high-ranking officials go to our city, but not like that.)

A city counselor later confirmed that the VIP was Ana, said the mayor. The city’s legal team is studying the incident that “alarmed” and “angered” residents who worked hard to keep the city’s record of zero cases of the novel coronavirus, he said.

“Nakakahiya ho saka unfair sa mga taga-Borongan iyong ganyang pangyayari dahil ang expectation nila sa amin lalo na kung nasa gobyerno tayo, we should know how to abide by the law. Itong pandemyang ito, we can only defeat this if everybody will cooperate,” Agda said.

(“It’s embarrassing, and it’s unfair to residents of Borongan because their expectation, especially for us in the government, is that we should know how to abide by the law. This pandemic, we can only defeat this if everybody will cooperate.)

The mayor said Agda, who he knew personally, had yet to call him to explain the incident.
HPG director Gen. Eliseo Cruz said Ana, a logistics officer, went to Borongan on his order to deliver supplies and firearms.  

“Nag-slow down daw sila. Hindi naman daw sila pinara. Kumaway lang daw iyong mga nasa checkpoint sa kanila,” he said in a separate TeleRadyo interview.

(They slowed down, but they were not stopped. The officers at the checkpoint just waved at them.)

Cruz said he would investigate the incident and coordinate with the Borongan government.

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Under “modified checkpoint” rules, only random vehicles should be inspected to prevent traffic jams in urban centers. However, all vehicles should be checked when traffic is light, said Joint Task Force COVID Shield Commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.

Eleazar said he learned that after Ana’s alleged checkpoint breach, officers went to his house to get his side. They failed to talk to him after his housekeeper told them that he was resting. Ana already left when officers went back the next day, he said.

“Maaaring may hindi pagkakaintindihan doon. Hindi na ito lalaki pa siguro kung nakausap o nagkapaliwanagan,” he told TeleRadyo.

(There could have been a misunderstanding there. This might not have gotten big if they got to talk.)

Earlier this month, 5 police escorts of San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora faced investigation after they allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint of Baguio City.

Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas and other high-ranking police officials were charged with administrative cases due to a "mañanita" or early morning birthday serenade. President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not relieve Siñas from his post despite the incident.