THIS year’s All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day made history as the most peaceful the nation had ever seen, with literally no apprehensions of weapons and liquor recorded in Metro Manila and the rest of the country as all cemeteries and memorial parks were closed until Wednesday amid the pandemic and the arrival of super typhoon ‘Rolly.’
Philippine National Police spokesman, Colonel Ysmael S. Yu said there was a ‘very peaceful situation’ in the country on Sunday as PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan placed the 209,000-strong force on full alert and ordered his men to strictly enforce all measures declared by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Debold M. Sinas said they recorded ‘zero incident’ and ‘zero confiscation’ of firearms, drugs, bladed and pointed weapons, alcoholic drinks, gambling paraphernalia and karaoke/videoke machines in cemeteries and memorial parks before, during and after All Saint’s Day.
Yearly, police confiscate thousands of bladed and pointed weapons being brought by people inside cemeteries and memorial parks in the metropolis. Dozens of people are also being apprehended every Undas period for involvement in illegal drugs, robbery, drunken brawls, possession of illegal weapons and other public disturbance.
However, all of these criminal acts, violations of different law and city and municipal ordinances and petty crimes were nil this time as the government ordered the closure of cemeteries and memorial parks last week.
Sinas said a total of 1,020 NCRPO personnel backed up by over 700‘force multipliers’ were deployed in 113 cemeteries in the metropolis: 29 under the jurisdiction of the Northern Police District; 19 under the Eastern Police District; 5 under the Manila Police District; 33 under the Southern Police District; and 27 under the Quezon City Police District.
Early last week, Gen. Cascolan ordered stepped-up security patrols and intelligence monitoring to thwart the presence of threat groups and crime gangs that may take advantage of the Undas 2020 while they remain engaged in operations to support the government’s fight against COVID-19.
The PNP chief said the massive security coverage during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day ensured the protection of people who flocked to different tourist destinations since cemeteries and memorial parks are closed during the long weekend.
Cascolan ordered his men to strictly monitor the observance of health protocols in all places of convergence and other public areas including beaches, pool resorts, shopping malls and other tourist spots.
He also ordered the full mobilization of the Pulis sa Barangay/Barangay Enforcement Teams to help keep peace and order and enforce the law specifically the minimum health protocols. The PNP Highway Patrol Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Alexander C. Tagum has also deployed Road Safety Marshals on major thoroughfares and roads leading to cemeteries and memorial parks in coordination with concerned police regional offices.
Cascolan has ordered all PNP units to ensure that cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaria in the country will be closed to public until tomorrow as ordered by the IATF-MEID.
The top cop also ordered his men to ensure that minimum quarantine protocols like wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing will be enforced to the hilt in these areas with the help of local government units as part of the government’s effort to fight COVID-19.
Yu said that police are under instruction to ensure the safety of those who will intermittently visit cemeteries and memorial parks although visitors allowed to enter these places will be limited to a minimum of 30 percent of the venue capacity.
The official said that Gen. Cascolan has ordered all 17 Police Regional Office directors and their Provincial Directors to inspect and monitor all daily activities taking place in their areas in connection with Undas 2020.
On orders of Gen. Cascolan, police and barangay marshals partnered to sustain their conduct of peacekeeping duties and enforcing the law. The PNP chief also ordered their ‘Red Teams’ composed of uniformed and plainclothes officers to regularly inspect their own people and see if they are doing their job properly.
Although the pandemic has triggered the closure of cemeteries and memorial parks during the actual All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the PNP still activated its traditional Oplan: Kaluluwa to protect the people, Yu said.
Cascolan and Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar both reminded their men and the public to maintain their vigilance during the period and ensure that criminals won’t be given the opportunity they need to hit a target.
Eleazar also reminded all police to help local government units in ensuring that quarantine protocols in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium in their areas will be fully compliant with quarantine protocols specifically wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing to help prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Eleazar particularly emphasized that the strict and proper observation of the minimum health safety standard protocol such as wearing of face mask and face shield and physical distancing is a non-negotiable rule that must be implemented during the pre and post-observation of ‘Undas.’