PNP considers charges vs. Taguig condo for allegedly violating quarantine protocols

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — The commander of the implementing arm of the inter-agency tack force against COVID-19 said they may be “constrained” to press charges against the management of a Taguig condominium for allegedly violating quarantine protocols.

PLGen. Guillermo Eleazar, head of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said they have received reports that the Pacific Plaza Towers (PPT) in Bonifacio Global City has been defying quarantine guidelines, prompting authorities to check the premises on Sunday afternoon.

According to Eleazar, the reports alleged that the PPT allowed the gathering of people at its common pool, a violation of the enhanced quarantine guidelines. The Taguig local government has also reiterated its ban on the use of common areas in condominiums amid the pandemic.

“It seems that the property manager was not that cooperative,” Eleazar said in an interview on CNN Philippines. “During the visit of the policemen, there were some people who were not observing social distancing. Doon na nagkaroon ng problema. [That’s when the problem started.]”

Eleazar said they will be coordinating with the management to address the incident: "If necessary, we will file an appropriate case against the property management if they will not cooperate."

Alleged abuse of power

In a statement making the rounds on social media, the PPT management denounced members of the police team for supposed trespassing, as well as for "accosting” and “berating” some of the residents for alleged violation of physical distancing guidelines.

The statement has not been independently verified by CNN Philippines.

Eleazar said they are also conducting a probe on the allegations against the involved police officers headed by PMaj. Joseph Austria.

“Of course, iniimbestigahan din natin kung meron bang pagmamalabis ang ating policemen,” he said.

[Translation: Of course, we will also investigate if there was an abuse of power on the part of our policemen.]

In a separate statement on Monday, Eleazar denied there was a gun-pointing incident, but he assured the public there would be no double standards when it comes to enforcing the law.

Speaking at a briefing earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also promised to probe the incident, stressing the inviolable right of individuals to be safe in their homes.

"Hindi pwedeng malabag ‘yan kung walang utos ng ating korte at hukuman…Hindi pwedeng pumapasok ang mga pulis sa mga private property kung wala silang nalalamang krimen na nangyayari sa loob ng private property na iyon, kung hindi sila inimbita, o kung wala silang search warrant," he said.

[Translation: That cannot be violated unless ordered by the courts. Police personnel cannot enter private property if there is no ongoing crime within the premises, if they are not invited, or if they do not have a search warrant.]

'ECQ protocols are for everyone'

Eleazar reminded the public to stay at home and observe quarantine guidelines. He stressed that the same rules apply to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.

"The condo residential place and the people living there are not exempted," he said.

Eleazar called on administrators of other condominiums and subdivisions to observe quarantine guidelines to protect its residents from contracting the viral disease.

Taguig City meanwhile posted a reminder on Facebook regarding quarantine protocols.

"ECQ rules and regulations include the closure of common areas and spaces in subdivisions and residential condominiums, as these places are areas of congregation. This applies to both public AND private establishments, as this is for the general welfare of everyone. The ECQ rules and regulations apply equally to all communities. Patas patas po dapat [It should be fair]," it said.