Stick-wielding cops to enforce distancing; hardheaded folk beware
MANILA, Philippines — The Joint Task Force COVID Shield will deploy stick-wielding officers in “social distancing patrols” to make sure people stay a good distance from each other, in compliance with regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to task force commander Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag.
Binag said the meter-long sticks or “yantok” — which are considered a weapon in Filipino martial arts — would be used by patrolmen to measure the distance between people in gatherings and hit those who are hardheaded and refuse to follow regulations.
“They’ll be carrying yantok. It will be 1 meter and will be used to enforce discipline, to measure, or to hit those who are hardheaded,” Binag said at the Laging Handa briefing.
He said the deployment of social distancing patrols was a directive from Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas.
More cops in crowded areas
An April 2020 press statement found on the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) website mentioned the deployment of a social distancing patrol in every station.
The patrol was composed of two to four policemen equipped with sticks and tasked with checking on areas where people gather.
“The maximized presence of personnel in proper uniform, face masks and gloves will be called social distancing ambassadors. This initiative aims to minimize the contagion of this virus especially in places of convergence and ultimately ensure the continuous delivery of extended police service to the entire Metro Manila,” read the statement from the NCRPO, which Sinas headed at the time.
Binag said the deployment of policemen and soldiers in areas of convergence in Metro Manila will be doubled for increased visibility.
These areas include public markets, shopping malls, churches, ports, and public transportation, he said.
The police chiefs will also request parish priests in their areas to hold more dawn Masses, to ensure that attendance would be spread out so people would not crowd churches.
Virus case update
On Friday, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded an additional 934 cases, pushing the national caseload to 436,345.
This is the second time in exactly a month that the country saw a three-digit increase in new infections.
Though 11 laboratories were unable to submit their data on time, the positivity rate stood at 4.7 percent, slightly below the World Health Organization’s benchmark of less than 5 percent.
Right to vaccine choice
Another 148 patients have recovered from COVID-19, raising the overall number of survivors to 399,457. But an additional 63 patients died, bringing the current death toll to 8,509.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 28,379 active cases, of which 85.4 percent are mild, 6.9 percent asymptomatic, 0.28 percent moderate, 2.5 percent severe and 4.9 percent critical.
The DOH also said those to be prioritized in the government’s vaccination program have the right to choose which vaccine will be given to them once these become available in the country.
“All of this information regarding the benefits and the effects of these vaccines will be given to them, as well as what kind of vaccine will be provided. They have the right to know the type of vaccine that will be given to them,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
So far, only three—Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca—out of about a hundred companies developing a vaccine have shown their products to be effective but at varying degrees of efficacy.
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