Philippine govt. ramps up law enforcement as lockdown violators mount


The Philippine government is ramping up law enforcement as the number of quarantine violators who have been warned, fined or charged amid the country’s battle against coronavirus disease breached past 100,000, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4 said the police and local government units (LGU) are taking steps to enforce the law.

Around 104,996 people nationwide have violated the quarantine protocols from March 17 to April 11, according to the data from Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) released by Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday.

Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, individuals committing unlawful act amid the health crisis in the country will face a two-month imprisonment or a fine of up to PHP 1 million (US$19,833), or both.

People’s movement in Luzon has been limited to accessing basic necessities after the entire island was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

Public mass transportation and most work have also been suspended during the implementation of Luzon-wide ECQ.

Data from JTF CV Shield revealed that around 8,014 public utility vehicle drivers who defied law enforcers’ orders to desist from further operations have also faced appropriate sanctions.

Eleazar bared that the highest number of violators, which was at 62,476, came from Luzon. This was followed by Mindanao and Visayas, with 23,735 and 18,785 violators, respectively.

The JTF CV Shield data also found that 697 hoarders or profiteers of basic commodities and other supplies have already been arrested.

Nograles said nearly all regions in the country, except SocSargen and Caraga Regions, have reported incidents of hoarding, profiteering, and manipulation of prices of goods.

We have arrested those profiteering, hoarding, and manipulating prices from all regions except Region 12 and Caraga),” he said.

Nograles also noted that charges have been filed against fake news peddlers.

“Because of the recent laws that were passed those who will make violations will be slapped with heftier penalties,” he said.

The JTF CV Shield reported that 74,604 of the 104,996 violators have been given warning, while 4,853 have been fined, 5,381 have been charged, and the remaining 25,539 have been nabbed and slapped with charges.

The implementation of ECQ in Luzon would expire on April 30.

Apart from Luzon, other local government units in Visayas and Mindanao imposed an ECQ in their respective localities to address COVID-19.

The Philippines now has 4,932 COVID-19 infections, with 315 deaths and 242 recoveries. (Source: PNA)