THE Philippine National Police leadership yesterday assured the public that it won’t allow its men to encroach on private Facebook and other social media accounts of the public in its drive to identify perennial violators of quarantine protocols specifically those holding drinking parties and violating social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks.
“We’re talking here of social media posts which have gone viral, those which have been sent to PNP Facebook accounts and the senders of the posts calling our attention to act on the matter,” said PNP chief General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar echoed the statement of Gen. Cascolan who brushed off fears and speculations by some netizens that police will start acting like ‘Big Brothers’ to watch private accounts of netizens.
“It’s not true. What we’re referring to here are social media posts sent to different Facebook accounts by our police stations and other units nationwide. These viral social media posts will be the ones monitored by our men for proper action,” said Eleazar.
Lt. Gen. Eleazar said that violators of health protocols who can be seen in viral social media posts won’t be arrested. “They won’t be placed under arrest but they will be investigated. In fact, ang nata-target nga ng campaign na ito ay mga prominent government officials because we’re empowering our people, our barangay,” the official said.
Gen. Cascolan said that it’s every Filipino’s social responsibility to follow the health guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He said that what they want their men to do is to properly act on social media posts from private citizens regarding the presence of people including their neighbors and public officials who are violating IAT rules.
Many viral social media posts like that of a group of Bureau of Fire Protection officers who attended a despedida party for their chief as well as people dancing and drinking in the streets during birthday parties shortly after Metro Manila was reverted to General Community Quarantine have been investigated by the police.
The PNP chief said netizens should not fear them. “As long as there are no abuses committed in Facebook posts, as long as one doesn’t’ threaten to kill another in a message, or threaten to commit a criminal act, there’s nothing to fear here,” he said.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines came to the defense of the PNP and said it has the power to check viral posts for quarantine violations.
IBP president Domingo Cayosa told a radio interview that viral posts are in the public domain and can be likened to an ad in a newspaper. “Kahit sino po, nakikita niya, at hindi naman bawal na titingnan din iyan ng mga law enforcement agency,” he said.