President Duterte orders DILG to deploy cops to quarantine facilities nationwide

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte directed on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to assign policemen in quarantine hotels nationwide.

The directive was given to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año during Duterte’s Talk to the People Address Tuesday night “to prevent those who may attempt to violate the quarantine regulations that have been put in place to protect our population from Covid,” said Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

The order also came amid the controversy involving protocol violators who skipped their mandatory quarantine in hotels.

Nograles said Duterte ordered for the assignment of policemen in at least two shifts per quarantine facility.

According to the President, cops are needed to ensure that the persons guarding the quarantine facilities have the “complete authority to inquire” to ensure compliance of quarantine rules.

President Duterte’s directive was welcomed by Alfred Reyes, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu.

Reyes said such a move will not only protect individuals who are quarantined, but also the staff who are taking care of them.

“This is much appreciated,” said Reyes, adding that they have long been asking for police presence in quarantine facilities to make sure quarantine protocols are strictly observed by guests.

Quarantine facilities

As of Jan. 5, Metro Manila has 297 quarantine facilities, said DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya in a press briefing Wednesday. A total of 594 police officers are needed if each quarantine facility is assigned at least two police officers.

“Kakayanin naman po natin ito (We can get these numbers). We have the Mobile Force Battalion whose members were assigned in police districts and stations, and others were assigned in checkpoints. They can be assigned to quarantine facilities,” Malaya said.

He added that the PNP has started doing random inspections since Dec. 1, but with Duterte’s order, they are expected to assign more people starting Wednesday or Thursday, Jan. 6.

Malaya assured that the PNP will also deploy personnel to monitor quarantine facilities in areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR).

Cebu hotels

In Cebu City, the local police have started deploying three to four police officers to each of the 28 quarantine hotels in the city starting Monday, Jan. 3.

At present, there are about 2,600 hotel rooms or 45 properties operating as quarantine facilities. Of the 45, 30 are multiple-use facilities and 15 are quarantine-only facilities.

Random visits

PNP Chief General Dionardo Carlos, for his part, said that his personnel will conduct random visits not just in quarantine hotels in areas under Alert Level 3, but also in business establishments.

He said the PNP will make sure that health protocols are strictly implemented in these establishments especially since the NCR, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal have been placed under Alert Level 3.

“This will give the PNP the authority to intensify our inspection of these establishments since there is a directive from the DILG. These inspection rounds will be unannounced and shall be conducted randomly to determine which establishments are compliant with public health protocols. Let this be a warning that there is no room for complacency during this health emergency,” Carlos said.

Based on the existing IATF guidelines, businesses in areas under Alert Level 3 can operate if their workers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They are also allowed to cater to fully vaccinated clients or customers, and use only 30 percent capacity for indoor setup and 50 percent capacity for outdoors.

“We believe that police visibility will serve the purpose to monitor how the quarantine hotels are accommodating their guests who are required to isolate while waiting for the completion of the required number of quarantine days,” Carlos said.

President Duterte, meanwhile, ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate cases of possible violations of quarantine protocols from the airport to quarantine facility, hotel or home. (LMY, KOC, AYB)

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