A group of armed cops allegedly barged into a gated condominium in Taguig City yesterday and threatened to arrest its expat residents for supposedly violating the rules of the enhanced community quarantine.
Joseph Castillo, an American resident of Pacific Plaza Towers, wrote in a Facebook post yesterday that members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) “unlawfully over ran our security and forced their way into our community with guns on our private property.”
Castillo alleged that the cops screamed at his neighbors, some of whom were children of diplomats and foreign dignitaries. He added that the police waived their guns at the residents while shouting at them to go back to their respective condo units. In his post, he added a video which showed one camouflaged officer screaming at a couple who were wearing face masks.
“My heart breaks for the little kids who were just getting some sunshine before being verbally assaulted by armed men (over kill),” Castillo wrote.
In an interview with The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Castillo said he was speaking with a delivery man when the PNP came in.
“Our staff [at the condo] did not feel they had the authority to tell them not to come in. They had guns and big weapons,” Castillo said.
“There are people loitering outside in the other cities. Why would they invade our private community with guns in their hands, screaming at people to go inside because of the virus?”
An unidentified resident backed up Castillo’s account and told GMA News that the cops threatened to arrest at least two families who were at the condominium’s garden that afternoon.
“There was no mass gathering,” the resident said. “There were around five or six families in the garden, and we were at least six meters apart. I was walking with my wife and two small kids when we heard a shout from the police. He (cop) was shouting at two families, ‘I will arrest you.’ He was repeating it. The small kids got scared.”
The condominium’s president Erwin Elechicon said in a letter sent to residents that the cops, led by a certain Major Joseph Austria, entered the property “without some form or warrant or authorization, which would be trespassing,” reports ABS-CBN News.
Elechicon said Austria and his team’s actions “were extremely upsetting, clearly inappropriate, and possibly illegal.” He said that they are already “working on the appropriate legal action” against the erring cops which they will file at a court within the next two days.
Meanwhile, the condominium’s management has notified the respective embassies of the residents of what occurred yesterday.
It was late last week when President Rodrigo Duterte threatened a martial law-like implementation of the Luzon lockdown after reports emerged that Metro Manila residents have been ignoring social distancing rules, with some even participating in cockfights and underground boxing matches.
Taking his cue from Duterte, PNP Chief General Archie Gamboa said today that they are looking for detention facilities because they plan to conduct massive arrests if people continue to flout the rules of the lockdown.