DILG tells PNP to secure COVID-19 vaccines, immunization teams

Robie de Guzman   •   February 10, 2021   •   521

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to secure all COVID-19 vaccines and protect the teams that will be administering them to avoid possible delays and disruption.

In a statement, the DILG directed the PNP to work closely with local government units in making sure that the vaccines will reach the intended recipients, especially in the far-flung areas in the country.

“Ang mga bakuna na ‘yan ay parang ginto lalo na ngayong kulang pa ang supply kaya pinaghahanda natin ang PNP sa anumang insidente,” DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, Jr. said.

“Pagdating sa airport hanggang sa maiturok ang mga ito, kasama na ang ating kapulisan,” he added.

The DILG said the move is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for police and soldiers to help maintain order and security, as well as augment forces particularly in remote sitios and barrios, during the vaccination campaign.

According to the government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, barangay officials and safety officers will also be tapped to aid in the vaccination campaign.

“Tulad nang lagi nating paalala, we need all the help that we can get sa pandemyang ito lalo na sa nalalapit na pagbabakuna sa ating bansa kaya ang ating PNP, kasama ang mga pinuno ng barangay at mga tanod, ay inaasahan nating makikipagtulungan at makikiisa,” Florece said.

Duterte earlier asked the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to allow the free and safe passage of the COVID-19 vaccines particularly in areas where they have a degree of influence.

The CPP agreed to the president’s request but urged the government not to use military vehicles in transporting the vaccines.

The communist group earlier said that vehicles transporting the vaccines must be clearly marked with a red cross over a white back ground to avoid being mistaken as a military vehicle.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya slammed the CPP for laying conditions for them not to hamper the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to all parts of the country.

Malaya said that during this time of pandemic, the communist rebels must place the country first before their selfish ideological interests and should not impose any conditions for the benefit of the people.

“Can’t the CPP/NPA/NDF declare a cessation of hostilities for a change if only to allow the delivery of the vaccines? In all countries of the world, the military are mobilized to assist in the vaccination program. In the US, the National Guard has been mobilized to ensure the fast delivery of their vaccines,” he said.

Malaya said that by setting conditions, the CPP is actually threatening the delivery of the vaccines in conflict-affected areas.

“What happens when we utilize a military vehicle to transport the vaccine in mountainous areas, are they going to shoot our soldiers on a humanitarian mission?” he said, adding that “6 x 6 military trucks are the only vehicles that can reach these areas.”

“What happens when civilian vehicles do not have a red cross over a white background?” he said.

Malaya said that the PNP will be on high alert considering the conditions imposed by the communist rebels.

The national government is eyeing to start its COVID-19 vaccination program on February 15 when the initial batch of 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech under the COVAX facility arrive in the country.

Vera Cruz named new JTF COVID-19 shield chief

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

Police Lieutenant General Joselito Vera Cruz

MANILA, Philippines — Police Lieutenant General Joselito Vera Cruz has been designated as the new commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced Wednesday.

“Effective on Tuesday, April 20, Vera Cruz was designated as the Deputy Chief for Operations and Task Force Commander of the enforcement arm of the national government in the implementation of quarantine rules and health protocols,” PNP chief General Debold Sinas said in a statement.

Vera Cruz replaced Police Lieutenant General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, who will retire on April 24 and whose designation has been terminated effective April 20, 2021.

“As the new commander of this task force, I expect PLtGen Vera Cruz will continue the plans and programs of the previous commander and enforce strict quarantine rules in the country to mitigate the spread of the virus while waiting for the available vaccines,” Sinas said.

The JTF Covid-19 Shield is composed of members of the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

PNP should not interfere with community pantry, DILG’s Año says

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

 

Community pantry

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said that police and local government executives should not interfere with community pantries and other similar initiatives organized by private groups.

Año issued the statement following reports that some of the community pantry organizers were being red-tagged and profiled by alleged government authorities.

The DILG chief said police and local government interference should only be limited to ensuring that health protocols are being implemented.

“Since this is a purely voluntary and private initiative, we should not interfere except to ensure that minimum health standards are complied with,” Año said.

“Hence, organizers must adhere to existing laws and local ordinances especially those issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he added.

Año also clarified that he did not order the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the community pantries around the country.

“The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country as part of Bayanihan culture and spirit specially in the times of calamities and disasters,” he said.

“In the spirit of Bayanihan, many Filipinos have been doing selfless acts of kindness since last year.

As long as the intention is good and without political color, it should be encouraged and supported,” he added.

As to the issue of whether organizers are required to secure barangay permits, the DILG chief said that organizers should “consult with the concerned barangays if such is required.”

“The PNP and/or local officials may just come in if there is any violation of law, if there are complaints from the community, or if the organizers seek their help,” he said.

“The LGUs, barangays and the PNP are ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public,” he added.

Sinas: No profiling, red tagging of community pantry organizers

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday denied claims that it is profiling the organizers of community pantries that have popped up in various areas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no order from the National Headquarters to conduct any form of profiling of organizers of community pantries,” PNP chief Debold Sinas said in a statement.

“It is beyond the interest of the PNP to delve into purely voluntary personal activities of private citizens” he added.

Sinas issued the statement following reports that some of the organizers were being red-tagged and profiled by alleged government authorities.

Anna Patricia Non, the person behind the Maginhawa community pantry, earlier announced they would temporarily suspend their operation due to alleged red-tagging.

“We are aware of the activities of these community pantries as an expression of Bayanihan spirit, but we have no intention to interfere but to serve the best interest of law and order and public safety in such public activities,” Sinas said.

“Of particular consideration is the observance of public health standards when there is gathering of ten or more persons that builds-up a crowd,” he added.

The PNP chief noted that this is not the first time that similar activities were initiated amid the pandemic, saying that some farmers’ organizations and local government units have also hauled their produce of fruits and vegetables to help depressed communities in Metro Manila last year.

“Similarly, police did not interfere with these activities rather extended utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the needy,” Sinas said.

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