MANILA – Police officers will now call out people practicing public display of affection (PDA) to help curb the continued rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
“Papaigtingin lang natin kasi nga some from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) at mga local government units are already alarmed again kasi medyo tumaas ang cases. So PDA, yung hawak-hawak sisitahin na rin yan. (We will just boost the enforcement because some from the IATF and the local government units are already alarmed because of the rising cases. So PDA, those who touch one another, we will call them out),” Philippine National Police chief Gen. Debold Sinas told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame on Wednesday.
The directive covers acts such as kissing, embracing, and holding hands in public.
“We cannot afford to lower our guard against the virus, especially at this point when the cure is already within reach,” he added.
Apart from couples, family members and friends in public places are also covered by the directive.
“For our part in the PNP, we will remain vigilant in enforcing public health guidelines and local ordinances that seek to mitigate the effects of the pandemic that has so far infected 600,000 Filipinos, 12,000 of whom have died due to medical complications,” Sinas said.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, meanwhile, reminded people they should also be responsible for their actions and should always take into consideration front-liners, especially health care workers who are putting their lives on the line in the battle against the pandemic.
He added the government's decision to ease quarantine measures does not mean people should ignore health and safety protocols in public.
“Kailangan meron tayong self-discipline at mas mataas na (We should have self-discipline and a higher) sense of responsibility,” he said
He said physical intimacy in public violates health and safety protocols set by the government.
Usana explained that police officers do not have the luxury of time to ask persons if they are couples and are living in one house.
“Kapag nakita sila na magkayakap, magka-akbay (If they are seen hugging or placing one's hand on another's shoulder) and very close to each other, (that is an) automatic violation,” he said.
Usana said police officers will not arrest couples caught doing PDA but will just caution them on the first offense.
Succeeding offenses will be sanctioned based on the existing ordinances of local government units regarding quarantine protocols. (PNA)