Palace defends PNP’s security measures for Traslacion 2020

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020   •   541

Filipino policemen try to control a crowd of devotees during the Black Nazarene to mark its feast day in Manila, Philippines, 09 January 2020.  EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday defended the strict security measures imposed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for this year’s Traslacion in Manila.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the stringent measures were enforced to ensure the safety and security of Catholic devotees participating in the annual event.

“The PNP has to undertake measures that will provide for the safety of those devotees, it may be strict but the goal is protect them from any harm,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo made the statement in reaction to criticisms and frustrations expressed by some devotees and netizens over the increased police deployment during the procession.   

During the procession, policemen formed a so-called “Andas wall,” which consists of hundreds of cops guarding the andas (carriage) from devotees.

Police’s move to set up barbed wires of the beams of the Ayala bridge, and the placement of container vans along some parts of the Traslacion route also drew mixed reactions.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) earlier explained the installation of barbed wires on the bridge’s beams is to prevent devotees from scaling its frames.

This year’s Traslacion took a shorter and slightly different route through the Ayala bridge instead of Jones bridge which has been used for years.

More than 13,000 policemen were deployed to secure the event. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Cops are security escorts in house-to-house COVID-19 visits — PNP

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified rumors on the planned house-to-house visits to locate individuals positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

According to PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac, the police will only act as security escorts to local health authorities who will spearhead the process. 

“Mangunguna pa rin talaga ang mga local health workers natin, at ang pagbabasehan niyan ay iyong mga listahan nila ng mga positive cases (The local health workers will lead [the initiative], and will base their visits on the list of positive cases),” Banac said. 

“Sila talaga ang nakakaalam niyan (They are the ones who are familiar with the list),” he added.

But still, the official said they will conduct a thorough search of all persons who had direct contact with someone who has COVID-19 to prevent further spread of the disease. 

This perhaps, Banac said, was what critics misunderstood from the statement of PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa who likened contract tracing to tracking fugitives.

“Ang pinatutungkulan ni PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa ay iyong pamamaraan ng contact tracing kung saan ito ay pinangunahan ni Mayor Benjie Magalong ‘yung sistema ng paghahanap ng mga possible na mga exposure sa COVID-19, [PNP Chief Archie Gamboa was referring to the manner of contact tracing that will be led by Mayor Benjie Magalong. He was referring to the system of searching those with possible exposure to COVID-19,]” Banac explained.  

“Hindi ito iyong tungkol doon sa pagsundo ng mga positive cases na, [It was not about fetching the positive cases,]” he added.

Banac assured that the public has nothing to worry about the house visits for COVID-19 patients. 

Even Joint Task Force COVID Shield Commander PLTGENPLTGEN. Guillermo Eleazar stressed that police personnel will only serve as security escorts in the planned house to house visits. 

“Ang role ng ating PNP ay para tumulong sa ating LGU through their health officers or workers kasi sila ang nakakaalam kung sino ang mga pasyente na positive na para dalhin sa mga isolation facilities (The role of our policemen is to help our LGUs specifically the health workers as they are the ones who know the positive cases so they could be sent to isolation facilities),” Eleazar concluded. MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)

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PNP to conduct tracing of individuals who had direct contact with COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has belied reports that they will be searching for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive patients as if they are running after fugitives.

In a phone interview, PNP spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac clarified that they are not the ones heading the house-to-house search for individuals infected with the virus but the barangay or city health workers.

Banac added that their role in the contact tracing is to provide escort to the infected individuals who will be advised to go to COVID-19 facilities.

“Mangunguna pa rin talaga ang mga local health workers natin at ang pagbabasehan n’yan ay of course ‘yung mga listahan nila ng mga positive cases, so sila talaga ang nakakaalam n’yan,” Banac said.

Banac, however, added that they will be conducting a thorough search of individuals who had direct contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

“Ang pinatutungkulan ni PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa ay yung pamamaraan ng contact tracing kung saan ito ay pinangunahan ni Mayor Benjie Magalong. ‘Yung sistema ng paghahanap ng mga possible na mga exposure sa Covid-19, hindi ito ‘yung tungkol doon sa pagsundo ng mga positive cases na,” he said.

Joint Task Force Coronavirus (JTF CV) Shield Commander PLtGen. Guillermo Eleazar also reiterated that the role of the police is just to provide escort to the barangay or city health workers in locating and picking up those who are positive for COVID-19.

“Ang role ng ating PNP ay para tumulong sa ating LGU through their health officers or workers kasi sila ang nakakaalam kung sino ‘yung mga pasyente na positive na para dalhin sa mga isolation facilities,” Eleazar said. — (with inputs from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

Gov’t assigns anti-COVID-19 czars to boost fight against virus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2020

The Duterte Administration assigned anti-COVID czars to intensify the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Malacañang admitted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise but it assured that the administration is still in control of the situation.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. introduced the four anti-COVID czars, namely, Secretary Vivencio Dizon as Chief Testing Czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as Chief Tracing Czar, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar as Chief Isolation Czar, and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega as Chief Treatment Czar.

Roque explained that all four anti-COVID czars will be directly under the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) led by Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Mas malawakang targeted testing, mas maraming isolation centers, mas matinding tracing, at mas matinding treatment para sa mga nagkakasakit. Lahat po yan sa ilalim ng NTF, sa ilalim ng ating Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez (More extensive targeted testing, additional isolation centers, improved contact tracing, and better quality of treatment for patients. All of these will be under the NTF, under Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez),” Roque said.

Chief Testing Czar Secretary Dizon reported there are now 85 COVID-19 laboratories nationwide, with nearly 1 million tests done as of July 11. Daily tests as of July 9 reached 25,000, nearing the 30,000 daily tests target by end of the month.

For tracing, Chief Tracing Czar Mayor Magalong said they are seeking to intensify skills training for contact tracers and use a contact tracing e-system composed of a COVID-19 data collection tool, a GIS (geographical information system) platform, and a Link Analysis Tool.

Chief Isolation Czar Secretary Villar said they plan to construct more quarantine facilities nationwide. Aside from the existing 129 regional evacuation centers, they are also building quarantine facilities in Region 7, Region 8, Region 10, and in Region 12.

Meanwhile, Chief Treatment Czar Dr. Vega said expanding hospital capacity will be one of his priorities. He also introduced One Hospital Command which will be in charge of both public and private hospitals and quarantine facilities in terms of planning healthcare capacity among others.

Galvez also said the NTF will also focus on the economy and social recovery of the country.

Nandito po tayo sa sitwasyon na dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya. Bagaman nandito po ang threat ng virus, kailangan na nating i-recover ang ating mga ekonomiya para manumbalik po ang negosyo at trabaho ng ating mamamayan (We are in a situation where we are slowly opening our economy. Even though the threat of the virus is still there we still need our economy to recover so that businesses and jobs will reopen for our citizens), he said. –AAC

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