’2 cops per quarantine facility’ in NCR starts this week: DILG

The deployment of at least two police officers in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) quarantine facilities to prevent incidents of persons skipping mandatory isolation will start this week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday.

In a Palace briefing, DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said a total of 594 police officers would be deployed to 297 quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order.

“Ang ating pong numero ng quarantine facilities ay 297. Iba-iba po ang classification niyan. May mandatory quarantine facility, may stringent quarantine facility, at may (for) seafarers. Kakayanin naman po natin ito. Meron tayong tinatawag na mobile force battalion na nakatalaga sa NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office), police district offices and stations (Our number of quarantine facilities is 297. They have different classifications – mandatory quarantine facility, a stringent quarantine facility, and there is one for seafarers. We can handle this. We have a so-called mobile force battalion assigned to the NCRPO, police district offices and stations),” Malaya said.

He said police personnel earlier deployed to checkpoints may also be assigned to man quarantine facilities accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Bureau of Quarantine.

“Hindi po mahirap on the part of the PNP (Philippine National Police) to deploy these 594 police officers in quarantine facilities (It is not difficult for the PNP to deploy these 594 police officers to quarantine facilities). Those of our police who are deployed at checkpoints can also be assigned by the PNP to various DOT- and BOQ-accredited quarantine facilities.),” Malaya added.

He said the random inspection in quarantine hotels began on December 21 and is ongoing.

The inspections were conducted by the PNP Health Service and the NCRPO upon orders from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Malaya added.

“Around 50 (facilities) were randomly inspected by PNP but since before that, give our PNP one or two days to assign personnel. I would expect maybe tomorrow (Thursday), we will have policemen assigned to quarantine facilities,” he said.

Año, meanwhile, said the PNP is up to the task, allaying fears of reduced personnel in other areas that need police visibility.

“Kaya naman ng PNP yan. Kasi alam mo naman tayo, responsive tayo kung ano yung call of the time (The PNP is capable. Because you know we are responsive to what is the call of the times),’’ he said in a phone interview.

Año said the government is trying to prevent another unprecedented surge in Covid-19 infections from Filipinos arriving in the country.

Meanwhile, PNP Chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos ordered police units to immediately come up with a plan regarding the measure.

“The instruction is to assign two police personnel in each hotel for every shift. I will ask the concerned police units to strategize and rationalize the deployment of personnel so as not to compromise the other tasks that need to be delivered,” Carlos said in a separate statement.

These personnel will man a common inter-agency help desk in each quarantine hotel in coordination with the DOT, BOQ, Philippine Coast Guard, and the local government unit.

He said the PNP would ensure that major functions, such as the ongoing relief and rehabilitation effort in typhoon-hit areas, would not be hampered.

“This effort will strengthen our monitoring of establishments that are non-compliant (with) protocol,” Carlos added.

This came after a certain Gwyneth Anne Chua, a returning Filipino traveler from the United States, was able to skip quarantine procedures at the Berjaya Hotel and attended a party a day after her arrival. She infected several other partygoers after testing positive for Covid-19.

Criminal charges were already filed before the Makati City prosecutor’s office against Chua and eight other individuals who were involved in the breach of quarantine protocols late last year.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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