ON SATURDAY, Aug. 1, 2020, the first day that Cebu City reverted to general community quarantine (GCQ), police apprehended 355 quarantine violators.
Some went out of their houses without the QR-coded quarantine passes, while others violated the curfew and the mandatory wearing of masks in public.
The government imposed community quarantine to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
According to Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Josefino Ligan, several residents went out believing the quarantine pass was no longer needed.
He reminded the public that holders of passes ending in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) are only allowed out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while holders of passes ending in even numbers (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) can go out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. No one is allowed outside on Sunday except for those considered as authorized persons outside residence (Apor).
“They thought they were free to go outdoors because the city is on GCQ. But no. We will have to sustain the gains that we achieved in the last month that resulted in the decrease of active Covid-19 cases,” Ligan said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Meanwhile, Mayor Edgardo Labella announced that residents with quarantine passes will be allowed out on Sunday, starting on Aug. 9.
They can use to day to secure essential goods and attend religious activities, he said.
“Whether their passes ends with odd or even numbers, they are allowed to go out,” said Labella in an interview on Sunday. “As long as their purpose is essential,” he said.
However, the number coding of quarantine passes for the rest of the week still applies, he said.
As for the arrests, the CCPO director said they had to remind the public that the stay-at-home order remains while the transmission of Covid-19 poses a threat.
Residents who were just outside their houses were issued warnings, he said.
Most of the quarantine violators will be charged, while others were forced to attend a seminar on quarantine protocol.
Ligan said the CCPO will visit malls to check if mallgoers are wearing masks and observing physical distancing as part of health protocol.
Police are also monitoring illegal cockfighting, he said.
Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield has instructed police commanders to make their hotlines accessible to the public, especially for complaints related to quarantine violations in their respective communities.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, JTF commander and Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations, said all police commanders were instructed to ensure that all their existing hotline numbers are serviceable, and if not, new hotline numbers should be made available as soon as possible.
He said having a police hotline is important to encourage the public to report health protocol violations by neighbors or even relatives without compromising their identities.
Eleazar also urged barangay councils to set up their own hotline numbers to give their respective constituents the chance to report quarantine violators for immediate action.
He said strengthening the barangay reporting system of quarantine violations is a good start for a good working relationship and interoperability of the local police and the barangay security officers, also known as barangay tanods.
In the absence of a local police’s hotline, residents may report directly to the JTF Covid Shield hotlines: 0998-849-0013 for Smart users and 0917-538-2495 for Globe users.
The JTF Covid Shield can also be reached through its email address: firstname.lastname@example.org while the PNP Helpline 16677 can also be contacted.
Eleazar said police stations can also impart through social media any information in their communities.
Earlier, the PNP assigned quarantine rules supervisors (QRS), or PNP Covid focal persons, in the more than 42,000 barangays in the country for the strict enforcement of the minimum health standard protocols at the community level.
The QRS coordinate with barangays and serve as team leaders of barangay security officers for the enforcement of quarantine rules set by the government to stop the spread of the virus. (AYB / KAL / JJL / TPM of SunStar Philippines)