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PNP approves return to work-from-home arrangement, other measures to stop further spread of COVID-19

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) headed by General Debold M. Sinas has approved a number of measures including the restriction of the entry of unofficial visitors in Camp Crame and a return of the ‘work-from-home’ arrangement in the wake of the continuing spike in COVID-19 cases in the country which so far had already claimed the lives of 36 police personnel since March last year.

The 36th police fatality is a pregnant police officer from the PNP Crime Laboratory assigned as a SOCO team leader in Valenzuela City. “It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I announce the untimely demise of another esteemed police officer who was in the frontline in this epic fight against a silent but deadly enemy”,” said PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar when he announced the death of the officer along with her unborn child last Saturday.

Eleazar reiterated the instruction of Sinas to all their personnel to strictly observe the minimum health safety protocols, most especially to pregnant police officers who are working from home because they are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections and other highly pathogenic respiratory infections.

“They must take extra precautions and should they feel COVID-19 symptoms or think they have been exposed to an infected person, they should immediately call their doctor and follow his or her advice” he said.

Last Thursday, a PNP full-fledged colonel also passed away due to COVID-19 making him the 35th member of the force to succumb to the killer virus since March last year. The 54-year-old police official was assigned at the Eastern Police District.

The 35th PNP COVID-19 fatality, a veteran anti-narcotics officer who was responsible for a number of major anti-narcotics operations in the country in the past succumbed to the virus last Thursday at the Armed Forces Medical Center in V. Luna, Quezon City.

Two other Police Lieutenant Colonels also died of the same cause this month. As of yesterday, there are more than 1,200 ‘active COVID-19 cases’ in the PNP. However, more than 11,600 of the nearly 12,900 police personnel who contracted the virus since March last year have already recovered from the disease and are now back in full duty status.

Thirty-two PNP Academy cadets and three PNPA personnel have likewise tested positive for the virus and have been transferred to a temporary PNPA isolation facility last week, the Journal Group learned.

A report from PNPA director, Brigadier Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said the 32 cadets and the three PNPA personnel composed of one non-uniformed personnel, a Patrolman and a Job Order Employee were among the 1,475 individuals who were swabbed last Tuesday and Wednesday.

The mass RT-PCR testing was part of Sinas’ effort to test all PNP personnel for the virus.

Crame visits restricted amid pandemic

Camp Crame guards have started restricting the entry inside the PNP National Headquarters of visitors and other unofficial guests amid the growing cases of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.

“There is no lockdown as a whole but Camp Crame now is restricted to visitors and all offices/units inside are closely monitoring their respective personnel for the strict observance of health protocols,” said Eleazar.

Acting in consultation with Sinas who is already recuperating from his bout with COVID-19, Eleazar approved the adoption of a work-from-home arrangement for their non-uniformed personnel. He said the new work scheme and the restriction on visits will be enforced until further notice.

Eleazar said the adoption of a modified work arrangement that include Work From Home for their NUPs assigned at Camp Crame as an alternative work arrangement was decided amid the upsurge of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the National Capital Region.

All heads of officers at the camp have been ordered to assess how they will implement their modified work arrangement without compromising their respective offices’ administrative works and outputs.

“In as much as we wanted to extend the same work arrangement for our uniformed personnel, the nature of our job makes it difficult to implement the same because aside from our regular law enforcement duties, we are also engaged in other functions that include the enforcement of the quarantine protocols such as the recent implementation of the uniform curfew hours in Metro Manila,” he said.

“However, there is already an ongoing assessment on alternative work arrangement for our uniformed personnel. In addition, the same assessment is being conducted to come up with recommendations on whether there is a need to continue the existing face-to-face classes or to shift to the conduct of virtual or online classes for the mandatory schooling and training of our personnel,” he added.

Eleazar however clarified that these new measures will only be for their personnel assigned at Camp Crame. “Our regional offices, particularly the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), are given the discretion, through their respective Administrative Support for COVID-19 Task Forces (ASCOTF), to decide on whether or not they would implement the same,” he explained.

Eleazar at the same time said they are already crafting a guideline to modify command activities at the PNP National Headquarters that would introduce a combination of physical and virtual attendance in such activities.

In this way, the risk of infection among their personnel will be lessened since it will further reduce the number of people attending those activities, he said.

“Since the main intention is to reduce the number of people going inside Camp Crame as a preventive measure against COVID-19 infection, I would like to reiterate the instruction to the units concerned to limit the visits in offices and quartering units at NHQ to those related to the exercise of official functions of the office,” he added.

Eleazar said they are also awaiting for the recommendations on whether or not to continue, suspend, modify and/or limit the number of clients availing of frontline services at NHQ specifically those securing police clearance, renewing permits and other transactions.

“While we will be conducting live streaming of activities and press briefings for our friends in the media, we are also giving them the option to cover but subject to the rules and regulations that include strict observation of the minimum health safety protocol,” he said.

Eleazar issued the statement as a cameraman of a television network tested positive for COVID-19 last Monday and was placed under quarantine. The PNP also temporarily closed the PNP Press Corps office in the aftermath of the incident.