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Lockdown violators take on farm work

/ 04:56 AM April 20, 2020

LABOR Villagers of Bued in the town of Calasiao, Pangasinan province, in a garden where violators of lockdown rules will be sent to grow vegetables. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALIPIO SALINDONG

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — Police in this Pampanga capital have found a way to make violators of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) productive by requiring them to plant vegetables in the city nursery as part of their punishment.

Police Col. Paul Gamido, city police chief, said they arrested 35 people on Saturday after they were found violating curfew hours, not wearing face masks or or not bringing their quarantine passes.“We made them plant `kalabasa’ (squash) and `okra’ for two to three hours,” Gamido said, adding that violators were also taught gardening methods.

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He said police used to punish violators by requiring them to do exercises for a number of hours. “I think making them plant vegetables is more productive nowadays,” he said.

The city nursery, established in 2016 in Barangay Lara here, has helped popularize urban gardening in 44 schools and 35 villages. It also produces ready-to-plant seedlings, which come in handy during the lockdown when vegetables are scarce or pricey, according to Cristina Sangumay, city agriculture officer.

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Common gardensIn Pangasinan province, violators of the lockdown in the village of Bued, Calasiao town, were sent to the village’s common vegetable gardens.

Bued village head Carlito Dion said violators were first given lectures on obeying the rules before they were asked to choose between being sent to the police station or to work in the gardens.

“All of them (violators) preferred to plant vegetables, saying they would rather help in the barangay project,” Dion said.

Seven residents who were caught drinking despite a liquor ban in effect were asked to clear a vacant lot and plant vegetables. Another group was required to plant vegetables in schools and vacant lots.

“The empty spaces of the schools are now full of vegetables,” Dion said.

Violators are supposed to work for a week in the gardens.

“If there is one good thing that has come out of the quarantine order, it is the realization of the residents that they need to produce their own vegetables,” Dion said, adding that many now tend their own backyards.

REPORTS FROM TONETTE OREJAS AND YOLANDA SOTELO

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Luzon quarantine, Pampanga lockdown violators
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