'Yantok'-wielding patrollers to check physical distancing vs COVID-19: official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2020 01:41 PM | Updated as of Dec 04 2020 03:18 PM

A police officer reminds residents to strictly follow physical distancing as he patrols the streets of a Muslim community in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City as they mark the end of Ramadan on May 24, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Troops wielding "yantok" or batons will make rounds in public areas to check compliance with physical distancing, which is meant to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said Friday. 

The deployment of police officers and soldiers will be doubled in Metro Manila's areas of convergence like public markets, malls, churches, and transport hubs, said Joint Task Force COVID Shield head, police Lt. General Cesar Binag. 

"Mayroon pa kaming tinawag na social distancing patrol. Ito'y pinag-utos ng ating Chief PNP, si Gen. Sinas," he said in a public briefing. 

"May hawak na yantok iyan, isang metro 'yan, para magsaway, manukat, pamalo na rin doon sa matitigas ang ulo." 

(We also have a so-called social distancing patrol. This was ordered by our national police chief Gen. Debold Sinas. They have a one meter-long batons to enforce, measure distancing and hit hard-headed people.)

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Since the start of the lockdown to stop the pandemic in March 17, authorities have arrested, warned or penalized around 700,000 people for violating COVID-19 protocols, said Binag. 

These guidelines include wearing an anti-virus mask outside their homes, keeping a distance of at least one meter from other people, and refraining from going in public areas for non-essential activity. 

Some officials have themselves been criticized for alleged violation of quarantine rules, including Sinas, who held a birthday gathering in May at the height of the Luzon lockdown. 

The Philippines has tallied some 435,000 coronavirus infections as of Thursday.