PNP to dispatch nearly 40,000 cops if Metro Manila lockdown ordered

Members of the Philippine National Police. Photo: ABS-CBN News
Members of the Philippine National Police. Photo: ABS-CBN News

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy about 40,000 officers should the Department of Health (DOH) consider it necessary to put Manila and the rest of the National Capital Region on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa told reporters in an interview today that some 28,000 of the total number of officers will come from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), while another 10,000 or so will come from PNP headquarters at Camp Crame, in Quezon City.

“[W]e have 30,000 to 40,000 [cops] to utilize, in case these things will come,” The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Gamboa as saying.

Gamboa said that should the DOH order a lockdown of Metro Manila, “certain protocols must be observed, but the PNP will always be there.” He added that he has approved the purchase of 300 sets of COVID-19 protective gear to equip Metro Manila cops who will work as first responders and patrollers, Manila Bulletin reports.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will also extend assistance.

“[The] AFP will assist if ever there will be [a lockdown]. We have forces in NCR and if needed, we can have more,” AFP chief Gen. Felimon Santos told GMA News.

Though the Philippines’ tally of cases remains low compared to many other countries, Metro Manila recently recorded a spike in confirmed virus cases, from just three to 33 in a matter of days. In light of the development, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año has raised the possibility of a city lockdown if the DOH raises the COVID-19 alert level to Code Red Sub-level 2, which indicates continuous transmission of the disease.

A Code Red Sub-level 1 alert is currently in place over the country, meaning there has been at least one confirmed local transmission.

Both DOH officials and President Rodrigo Duterte have said that talk of putting Metro Manila on lockdown is still premature. “We have not reached that kind of contamination,” the president told reporters earlier this week in Malacañang.

Yesterday, DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated that no lockdown will be enforced until the department has confirmed a “sustained community transmission” of the disease.


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