MANILA - Authorities will use 'yantok' or rattan sticks when they are assaulted by violators of COVID-19 protocols, an official said Sunday.
The Commission on Human Rights earlier said it was unnecessary and a "form of violence" to use such weapon to carry out anti-virus measures.
Troops will primarily use yantok in measuring physical distancing, said Police Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
"Kapag ina-assault nila yung ating authorities, eh wala ho tayong magagawa kung di depensahan ang sarili nila at aarestuhin kayo…Dun na ho papasok ang ating yantok, nightstick o probaton. Ginamit po namin yun sa training, at official po ito na issued equipment ng ating mga pulis," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(When authorities are assaulted, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves and arrest you. That's when yantok, nightstick or probaton comes in, which we used in our training and is an official equipment of the police.)
"Non-stop po ang aming paalala sa aming kababayan. Sana, sumunod sila para hindi umabot sa extreme situation."
(We remind the public nonstop. So we hope they will follow so it won't lead to extreme situations.)
Binag reminded policemen also to use the weapon in appropriate situations.
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said local governments also used yantok but only to measure distance.
"Nung ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), kami ang nauna d'yan. Hindi ginagamit bilang pamalo, (pero) palatandaan gaano kalayo ang mga tao sa isa’t isa. Basta remind mo lang, 'wag na natin paluin pa ang tao. Hindi tama yun," he said.
(We were the first to us it during ECQ, but only to remind the public of physical distancing. Just remind them, don't hit them. It's not right.)
Binag said authorities have so far warned, apprehended, penalized and fined some 598,000 individuals for violating the country's quarantine protocols.
Of these, some 253,000 were fined or rendered community service, while another 200,000 were only issued warnings. Those arrested account for 24 percent of the violators, he said.
The Philippines has already logged 438,069 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Dec. 5, of which, 29,961 are active infections.