Gamboa orders stepped-up police visibility as malls reopen

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, has ordered the deployment of more policemen in shopping malls in Metro Manila and other parts of the country which are expected to resume ‘new normal’ operations amid the lifting of quarantine restriction by the Duterte government in order to partially open the economy, the commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said yesterday.

According to Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, they will be deploying policemen in malls to assist private security personnel in implementing basic protocols against the Corona Virus Disease like physical distancing and wearing of face masks under the ‘new normal.’

“With some of the shops inside the malls now allowed to open, we expect an influx of people in these areas so we want to make the police presence felt there in order to ensure that they will strictly follow the rules for their safety from the coronavirus,” said Lt. Gen. Eleazar. 

He explained that the deployment of policemen especially near the mall entrances is part of the shift to intensified police visibility following the easing of the restrictions on home quarantine which allowed some business establishments, including some shops inside the malls, to open starting last Saturday.

This means more people would be allowed to travel to report to their offices and other places of work, he said.

Eleazar said mall security managers have already been made aware of what should be observed based on past dialogues.

“The threat of coronavirus is still there so this is really a challenge. On our part based on the guidance of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we will make sure that necessary measures will be implemented to protect those who would be allowed to go out,” he said.

“But we need the cooperation of our kababayan. We call on them to still avoid unnecessary travel. If it is not that important, it is still better to stay at your homes,” he added. Eleazar said the same intensified police visibility will be employed in other business districts and possible convergence points such as public transport terminals and waiting areas.

He added that in areas where public transport would be allowed,  members of the PNP Highway Patrol Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz, backed by local police forces, will conduct mobile checkpoints and random inspection to ensure that physical distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks are observed.

National Capital Region Police Office director, Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas last week begun discussing with mall security officers in Metro Manila their new strategies in anticipation of the ‘new normal’ to be triggered by the General Community Quarantine in some parts of Luzon including the metropolis.

Knowing that Filipinos are expected to shop again once quarantine measures are relaxed, the NCRPO held a dialogue in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City with security officers of SM Malls, Ayala Malls, Shangri-La, Landmark, Rockwell and other shopping establishments in Metro Manila amid the expected declaration of GQC.