Ermita police chief axed for failure to enforce physical distancing in Manila Bay ‘white sand beach’

Throngs of people have gathered along Roxas Boulevard on Sunday, Sept.20, for a chance to view the Manila bay white sand that has been opened to the public this weekend from 6 am to 6 pm. Marianne Bermudez/Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Ermita police station commander Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan was relieved from his post over his alleged failure to enforce physical distancing rules on visitors to the “white sand beach” in Manila Bay.

In a statement on Sunday, the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Caramoan “should have taken the initiative in planning and implementing strict security and health safety measures for the opening of the cleaned and beautified portion of the Manila Bay.”

“PLt. Col. Caramoan could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there were prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area,” Eleazar said.

“Clearly, he also failed to comply with the JTF COVID Shield order that was coordinated with the Chief PNP for all police commanders to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral in the social media,” he added.

The Manila Bay “white sand beach” was temporarily opened to the public on Saturday and was again opened from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, following its makeover involving “white sand” from crushed rocks of dolomite which drew the ire of environmental experts for potential harmful impacts.

LOOK: Manila Bay ‘white sand beach’ draws crowd on Sunday

Photos and videos that circulated on social media showed people along Roxas Boulevard standing close to each other despite the physical distancing rule being imposed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as they hoped to see the Manila Bay makeover.

Caramoan will be replaced by Police Lt. Col. Alex Daniel as officer-in-charge.

Año to MPD: Deploy more cops to enforce health protocols

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said he had instructed the Manila Police District (MPD) to deploy more police officers at the “white sand” beach to enforce health protocols.

“We have to deploy more policemen there to enforce (health protocols) and the Manila city government has to deploy more marshals,” Año said.

“I instructed the MPD to coordinate and discuss with (Manila) Mayor Isko Moreno on how to establish rules, regulations and protocols to ensure the observance of minimum health standards,” he added.

Año also said that it is possible that the Manila Bay “white sand” beach project will be closed to the public anew as Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine where tourism is still banned.