(File photo)

MANILA – The number of community quarantine violators in the country has reached 222,846 since mid-March.

Based on the latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) released on Tuesday from March 17 to July 12, most of the violators were from Luzon numbering to 141,750, while 44,470 are from the Visayas and 36,626 are from Mindanao.

Meanwhile, out of the figure, 115,643 were warned, 37,368 were fined and 69,834 were arrested.

On Monday, the PNP said it will intensify the enforcement of existing laws and local ordinances against drinking, smoking, and roaming around topless in public places in line with ongoing government efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

"Upon instructions of President (Rodrigo) Duterte, the Philippine National Police is stepping up the anti-crime drive and enforcement of local ordinances in coordination with the local government units to arrest the rise of common street crimes amidst the national health emergency," PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said in a press briefing in Camp Crame.

He said a memorandum was already issued to all police commanders regarding this order from the President.

Also included in strict enforcement are the use of karaoke beyond the allowed time and minors violating curfew hours.

Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the local ordinances which he described as discipline-based ordinances would be a big boost in compelling the people down at the barangay level to observe the minimum health safety protocols like wearing of face masks and physical distancing.

Eleazar said the enforcement of local ordinances resulted in the decrease of crime volume in Metro Manila by 63 percent in the first 40 months of the Duterte administration compared to the last 40 months of the Aquino administration.

"Through intensified police visibility and strategic deployment, coupled with the cooperation of barangay enforcers, we were able to impose discipline in Metro Manila which eventually elicited positive results on crime statistics. We believe that we can use this strategy against Covid-19 especially that we have been receiving complaints and observations about some of our kababayans who start to become complacent after some of the quarantine rules were eased,” he added.

Since the start of the general community quarantine (GCQ) and the modified GCQ, there have been complaints and reports that there are some communities in Metro Manila and other parts of the country where loiterers begin to regroup on the streets. Some people have also started to smoke and vape in public places.

Experts have been warning against the continuous rise and even a series of waves of Covid-19 infection in the country if people fail to adjust to the basic health safety protocols against Covid-19.

“On the part of the JTF CV Shield, we believe that these disciplinary measures using existing local ordinances against these kinds of offenses will reinforce the implementation of our quarantine rules,” Eleazar said.

Gamboa, for his part, said the strict enforcement of ordinances includes those related to the observance of minimum health standard protocols such as wearing face masks, safe physical distancing, and avoiding mass gatherings.

"I would like also to remind the public that we are still under community quarantine and as such, should strictly follow the health protocols to stop the spread of the virus," he added.

He said he had already tasked all police commanders to increase police visibility through optimized personnel deployment in all places of convergence. (PNA)