PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Debold M. Sinas yesterday said he will no longer allow police officers and men with COVID-19 symptoms to undergo home quarantine since they already have isolation and treatment facilities for policemen who have contracted the virus while on duty.
“Starting next week, we won’t anymore allow home quarantine for our personnel. Instead, they will be taken to our different isolation facilities where they will be taken good care of,” the top cop told newsmen at Camp Crame.
As of yesterday, he said that there have been 8,103 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the PNP although 7,669 of the patients have fully recovered from the disease and are now back in full duty status.
The PNP Health Service headed by Brigadier Gen. Nolasco K. Bathan is also monitoring a total of 370 active COVID-19 cases in the force. Sadly, 26 personnel have succumbed to COVID-19.
Since last March 16, the National Capital Region Police Office formerly headed by Gen. Sinas has had the biggest number of patients with 3,498. The PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame has also not been spared by the virus with 45 cases monitored at the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management; 32 from the Directorate for Logistics; 24 from the Office of the Chief,PNP; 15 from the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management; and 11 from the Directorate for Operations.
Gen. Sinas said that even their star-rank officers have also contracted the virus and are now undergoing quarantine and treatment. They include Northern Police District director and newly-appointed Police Regional Office 9 director in Western Mindanao Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Genaro E. Ylagan; PNP Firearms and Explosives Office director Brig. Gen. Rommil M. Mitra; and Brig. Gen. Joey B. Runes of the PNP Communications and Electronics Service.
The PNP chief said that Brig. Gen. Ylagan would have to wait for a doctor’s clearance before he can assume the top PRO9 post.
The three were among the top officials subjected to a swab test by the PNP Health Service on orders of the PNP chief. “I have ordered a regular testing of my officials. In certain period, they will all be subjected to a swab test. This is part of our targeted group swabbing,” Gen. Sinas said.
He said that they will also have their own Misa de Gallo in Camp Crame and other police headquarters and camps provided that all minimum health protocols, specifically social distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields, will be fully observed.
The PNP chief underscored the importance of social distancing in all their activities and in public. “Habang nagbubukas ang community, dumarami ang tao sa labas lalo na sa mga malls, markets, terminals kaya dapat priority ang mg lugar na ito sa aming mga social distancing patrols,” he said.
Gen. Sinas said that PNP social distancing patrollers will be equipped with batons to prevent any physical contact with others.
He added they are ully coordinating with the Department of Health to build more quarantine and treatment facilities for police personnel who have contracted the COVID-19 virus while in the performance of their duties.
Gen. Sinas said that they are preparing for the new normal in which police can return to their daily physical exercises without compromising their health. Last week, police started demolishing a quarantine facility built at Camp Crame’s oval so that it can be used again for physical activities.
The area which used to be the PNP national headquarters’ main parade ground was temporarily closed to the public to give way to the facility built to house police personnel with suspected COVID-19.
The facility has been transferred to the National Capital Region Police Office headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. Gen. Sinas said that except for the quarantine facility at Camp Crame’s Kiangan Billeting Center, he has ordered the transfer of all similar facilities outside of the PNP national headquarters.
He said that the NICE Hotel with its 100-bed capacity has been designated by the government as a quarantine facility for policemen who have contracted the killer virus but have been described as asymptomatic. Kiangan Hall will accommodate police personnel showing symptoms of the virus.
“My intention is to remove all quarantine facilities inside Camp Crame except those in Kiangan. I’m also encouraging our personnel to exercise at the parade grounds while observing minimum health protocols like wearing of face masks and face shields. They can do jogging and walking but we don’t want a return of the Pulisteniks due to social distancing measures,” the PNP chief said.
Last week, Gen. Sinas opened their testing laboratory in Cebu City which would serve members of the Police Regional Offices 6,7 and 8. He said he is also set to open their own lab in Davao City which will serve members of the PRO11. “We’re just waiting for the lab technicians to graduate and be certified by the DOH,” he said.