PNP will scan social media for quarantine violators, Shield chief warns
MANILA, Philippines — In much the same way that the public learned about how physical distancing and other anti-COVID-19 health measures were allegedly violated by the Metro Manila police chief when he celebrated his birthday last May, police hope to catch “hardheaded” quarantine violators, including fellow officers, with help from social media.
And so the public was warned on Saturday by Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield chief Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar that the police would “regularly monitor” various social media platforms in search of people who defied safety protocols while most parts of the country remained under some form of community quarantine.
Eleazar said he had instructed all police commanders and their men to conduct what would amount to an online patrol to find violators of quarantine rules.
He said some people were “inadvertently” posting photos online of quarantine violations such as mass gatherings and celebrations.
Other pictures and videos of quarantine protocol violations committed on the streets that were captured by closed-circuit television and dashboard cameras were also being posted on Facebook, he said.
“The social media are full of photos and evidence of hardheaded people deliberately violating the quarantine protocols. These can be used as pieces of evidence to warn, to fine and to summon the people concerned in coordination with the barangay officials concerned,” Eleazar said in a statement.
He said among the usual images uploaded on social media were violations of the rules on riding pillion on motorcycles and of drinking sessions.
He warned people who gather for drinks that they may also be violating the liquor ban in their localities.
Eleazar appealed to the public “to assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) in running after the violations of quarantine protocols, even if those involved are policemen.”
Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, and 18 other senior police officers are facing criminal charges for violating quarantine protocols when he celebrated his 55th birthday last May.
No social distancing
Their pictures on social media showed they did not practice physical distancing or wear face masks. The Taguig City prosecutor’s office had not yet decided on whether to file the charges in court.
Based on the data from the JTF COVID Shield, more than 365,000 people had been warned, fined and charged with violating quarantine protocols nationwide since March 17.
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