PNP Deploys elite SAF Commandos in Metro Manila

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed on Tuesday at least 116 elite Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in 10 areas in Metro Manila where rampant violations of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures have been reported.

PNP

The deployment of the SAF commandos, known to be the toughest and well-trained police personnel in the country, was approved by Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa to ensure the strict enforcement of the ECQ guidelines.

“There will be no more warning for ECQ violators. Instead, arrest and inquest procedures will be applied to cases of violations of Republic Act 11469,” Gamboa said in a virtual presser, referring to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Metro Manila is the region with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases followed by Calabarzon or Region 4A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and parts of Bulacan in Central Luzon or Region 3, said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a Laging Handa virtual press briefing.

Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force coronavirus disease (JTF COVID) “Shield,” said the SAF commandos were divided into 12 teams with each team composed of eight members. An additional 20 commandos were fielded to support the contingent.

Aside from the elite units, the PNP also sent six medium troop carriers (MTCs) and six multi-purpose armored vehicles (MPAVs) for the troops’ mobility.

“Our SAF men have the authority to arrest violators of ECQ guidelines, so please do not test their patience,” Eleazar said.

“They will assist the local police in enforcing the ECQ. We believe the presence of our SAF commandos will further compel hardheaded people to behave and follow the ECQ because our SAF are tough and strict when it comes to discipline,” he added.

The SAF commandos were stationed at the Blumentritt Public Market in Sta. Cruz, Manila; Libertad, Pasay; Pasig Palengke; Napindan, Taguig; Lower Bicutan, Taguig; Las Pinas City Public Market; North Caloocan; Alabang Public Market in Muntinlupa City; Bagong Paranaque Public Market; and Marikina Public Market.

“Initially, these areas are where they would be assigned to enforce the ECQ but they can transfer to other locations depending on our monitoring,” Eleazar said.

He said they could send additional SAF commandos depending on the progress of the situation on the ground.

“We are assessing the situation on the ground on a daily basis. With the approval of our Chief PNP, we could increase the number of our SAF personnel in the coming days,” Eleazar bared.

Major General Amando Empiso, SAF commander, said they have an adequate number of personnel in case there is a need for deployment in other provinces where COVID-19 is prevalent.

Meanwhile, police intelligence has also been intensified to identify other areas in Metro Manila where violations of ECQ protocols remain rampant.

“Nirerespeto namin ang mga karapatan ng ating mga kababayan pero we are living in an extraordinary time today kaya ang main concern namin dito ay ang karapatan ng mga nakararami na hindi mahawa ng COVID-19 at ang karapatan ng iba na mabuhay (We respect the right of the public but we are living in an extraordinary time today that’s why our main concern is the right of the general public not to be infected with COVID-19 and the right to life), Eleazar said.

“We are assessing the situation on the ground on a daily basis. With the approval of our Chief PNP, we could increase the number of our SAF personnel in the coming days,” Eleazar bared.

Major General Amando Empiso, SAF commander, said they have an adequate number of personnel in case there is a need for deployment in other provinces where COVID-19 is prevalent.

Meanwhile, police intelligence has also been intensified to identify other areas in Metro Manila where violations of ECQ protocols remain rampant.

“Nirerespeto namin ang mga karapatan ng ating mga kababayan pero we are living in an extraordinary time today kaya ang main concern namin dito ay ang karapatan ng mga nakararami na hindi mahawa ng COVID-19 at ang karapatan ng iba na mabuhay (We respect the right of the public but we are living in an extraordinary time today that’s why our main concern is the right of the general public not to be infected with COVID-19 and the right to life), Eleazar said.

From March 17 to present, a total of 136,517 ECQ violators have been recorded by the PNP, of which 98,986 were warned, around 6,000 were fined and over 31,000 were arrested.

About 2,500 remained in detention cells while 24,248 cases were filed.

SOURCE: MANILA BULLETIN

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