MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to continue its arrest of curfew violators amid the enforcement of Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The order follows the activation of the online inquest proceedings of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he has discussed the matter with PNP chief General Archie Gamboa, who instructed the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield to continue apprehending those disobeying community quarantine protocols imposed by the government.
The JTF COVID Shield is the enforcement arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
It is composed of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.
“To be lenient now on curfew violators will go against the very purpose of the ECQ which is to stop the movement of people and only allow essential personnel to break curfew,” Año said.
“Marami pa rin tayong pasaway na mga kababayan. The only way they will follow the law is if we make arrests,” he added.
The DILG said a total of 42,826 curfew violators were apprehended in the first 11 days of the enhanced community quarantine, from March 17 up to March 27. Of this number, 12,094 of them were from Metro Manila.
Año said all the apprehended violators will be taken to the nearest police stations for investigation, and filing of cases using DOJ’s e-inquest project.
The DOJ earlier said that the virtual inquest proceedings may be done using any online platform for video calls and conferences and all available electronic communications.
General rules on procedures for its conduct has been issued to the government prosecutors across the country.
In the absence of Internet connections or online facilities in the police stations, regular direct filing will be accomplished by police investigators.
“If no inquest is done within 12 hours, all arrested violators must be released immediately,” Año said, adding that cases can still be filed against them after the COVID crisis is over.
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