Elite PNP force fielded in Metro Manila to enforce ECQ rules
The Joint Task Force- COVID Shield on Tuesday said they deployed 116 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in at least 10 areas in Metro Manila where violation of home quarantine and physical distancing are prevalent.
According to Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, JTF COVID Shield commander, the deployment of SAF commandos was approved by the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Archie Francisco Gamboa.
Gamboa said the SAF commandos were ordered to help police enforce the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The116 SAF personnel were divided into 12 teams and each team is composed of eight SAF commandos.
“ We believe that the presence of our SAF commandos will further compel hardheaded people to behave and follow the ECQ because our SAF are tough and strict when it comes to discipline,” Eleazar said.
“Our SAF men have the authority to arrest violators of our ECQ guidelines, so please do not test their patience. As I have stated before, there will be no double standard in the implementation of our ECQ so regardless of your social status, you will be arrested if you violate home quarantine,” he added.
Eleazar said the initial deployment will be in the following public markets where violations of home quarantine and physical distancing were seen based on intelligence reports, and monitored social media posts.
These areas are Blumentritt in Sta. Cruz, Manila; Libertad in Pasay City; Pasig Palengke, Napindan, Taguig; Lower Bicutan, Taguig; Public Market of Las Pinas City, North Caloocan, Alabang Public Market, Bagong Paranaque Public Market, and Marikina Public Market.
“Initially, these areas are where they ( SAF commandos) would be assigned to enforce the ECQ. But they can transfer to other locations depending on our monitoring of areas where home quarantine and physical distancing are violated,” Eleazar said
Eleazar said they could also increase the number of SAF commandos depending on the situation.
“We are assessing the situation on the ground on a daily basis. With the approval of our Chief PNP, we could increase the number of our SAF personnel in the coming days,” he said.
Metro Manila's cases of COVID-19 account for 71 percent of the nationwide tally of 6, 459 as of Monday. It is also the area where violations of home quarantine are prevalent.
Meanwhile, according to SAF Director Police Major General Amando Clifton Empiso, they have enough standby forces to augment local police in enforcing the ECQ guideline not only in Metro Manila but also in the provinces.
Eleazar said they have stepped up intelligence operations in Metro Manila to identify other areas where ECQ guideline violations are widespread. Ella Dionisio/DMS