‘Lax’ ECQ in Metro Manila? Eleazar says maybe due to more APORs, lockdown violators
MANILA, Philippines — Amid allegations that enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila was weak, the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership on Wednesday said it would be wrong to entirely blame the police force for it if it is true.
According to PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, such claims may be because more individuals are now being allowed outside of their residences or people still violate protocols set to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Eleazar even pointed out that police officers have actually recorded a high rate of health protocols breach over a year into the pandemic. He said the PNP has accosted 109,000 quarantine and curfew violators for the National Capital Region (NCR) alone – and 517,000 nationwide – during the last 12 days, or since Metro Manila was reverted to ECQ status.
“Well dalawang bagay po ‘yan, kasi nga una, sinasabi ko nga po na mas marami ang allowed lumabas, considered as APOR (authorized person outside of residence), maraming APOR ngayon kesa APOR noon dahil nga mas maraming establishment na bukas, at merong iba na na-consider na,” he said.
(Well that’s two things: first, as I have said, more individuals have been allowed to get out of their homes, many have been considered as APORs compared to before because more establishments are now open.)
“Pangalawa, ay well, hindi natin maalis na marami pa ring matitigas ang ulo. Sa Metro Manila lang nga, nag-aaverage tayo ng 9,000 — 109,000 ‘yong na-accost natin,” he added.
(Second, well, we cannot do away with the fact that many people are still hard-headed. In Metro Manila alone, we are averaging 9,000 quarantine violators per day — we have accosted 109,000.)
Eleazar also provided a quick look at what kind of violations are being committed: at least 80 percent of the 517,000 violators breached quarantine protocols, 14 percent violated curfew regulations, and six percent went outside even if they are not APORs.
Most of these individuals or 79 percent were just warned, while 13 percent were given citations.
Such numbers, Eleazar said, raise questions on whether it is the PNP’s fault that the current ECQ appears lax. Still, he admitted that the police cannot monitor every single violation of quarantine protocols, which is why they ask people to observe the minimum health standards of wearing face masks, face shields, and maintaining physical distancing.
“Maluwag ba ‘yan sa pagpapatupad, o maluwag ba ‘yan sa ating enforcement, kasi eh hindi po kami makaka-accost ng 109,000 sa Metro Manila o 517,000 sa buong Pilipinas kung ang pulis natin is patulog-tulog lamang,” he stated.
(Is that being lax on implementing rules, is that being lax on enforcement because we cannot accost 109,000 individuals in Metro Manila or 517,000 for the whole country if police officers are sitting idly.)
“Kulang kami para bantayan ‘yan, kaya nga po kami, from the very start, force multiplier at itong mga tumutulong sa atin na mag-remind. Pero bottomline, isang tao’t mahigit kalahati na tayo dito, ano ba namang sundin natin itong minimum public health standard, the tried and tested formula?” he asked.
(We lack personnel to monitor that that’s why we have tapped force multipliers who also help us remind people. But the bottom line is, we are one year into this pandemic, what is wrong with following the minimum public health standard, the tried and tested formula?)
Qualms about the current ECQ imposition over Metro Manila were aired by analytics group OCTA Research, which said they saw the need for a tighter approach to the lockdown.
OCTA Research fellow Prof. Guido David said that the ECQ quarantine restrictions placed this August are less stringent than what the country had last March 2021, and in the previous lockdowns in 2020.
“Hindi kasing higpit ‘yung ECQ ngayon kumpara noong March and even ‘yung last year in terms of mobility. ‘Yung mobility na nakikita ngayon ay mas mataas noong nakaraang ECQ noong March at saka last year,” he said in a televised public briefing.
(The ECQ now is not as strict as compared to that in March or even last year’s in terms of mobility. The mobility now is higher than that seen in the ECQ last March and last year.)
Prior to that, OCTA Research also noted that it is either the lockdowns are weak or the COVID-19 Delta variant is just too strong — that high transmission rates are being recorded.
Metro Manila and provinces like Bataan, Laguna, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro were placed under ECQ in early August due to rising COVID-19 cases believed to be spurred by the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than the already infectious variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus like the Alpha.
As of Tuesday, the Department of Health said the country has 105,787 active COVID-19 infections, after recording 10,035 new infections.
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