MANILA - Some 150 elite policemen will be deployed to Cebu City to oversee quarantine measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Visayan urban hub, the Philippine National Police said Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte reverted the city to strict lockdown or enhanced community quarantine starting June 16 from general community quarantine due to the rising number of infections.
Residents were "not strictly following quarantine rules," with most "going out of their homes, not wearing face masks and not observing physical distancing," the PNP said, citing the observation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases during its visit in Cebu City.
The deployment of the Special Action Force (SAF) was "deemed necessary to compel local residents from unnecessarily going out of their homes" and urge them to wear face masks when outside, according to Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
The group's deployment was proven effective in Metro Manila, Eleazar added, citing a "significant decline" in the region's number of quarantine violators.
"SAF commandos are known to be strict in enforcing the quarantine rules which subsequently compelled hardheaded residents to stay in their houses," he said.
Cebu Police regional director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro said the SAF deployment would help in quarantine enforcement in Cebu City.
Three senior officers from the PNP’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas and Directorate for Operations will also be sent to Cebu City to "serve as our link to closely supervise and assist in the ECQ implementation," Eleazar said.
As of Wednesday, the city has 4,216 cases of COVID-19, with 328 recoveries and 68 deaths, according to the health department.
The Philippines has tallied 32,295 coronavirus infections, with 1,204 deaths and 8,656 recoveries.