In times of medical crisis, how about the police?

(Photo Courtesy of Prosixrpiopnp Rpio Facebook)

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

In the face of natural disasters and calamities, police and other law enforcers are always on the frontline of rescue and relief operations.

While some police officers are trained for disaster response, are they equipped and trained for medical crisis situations like the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

As of March 15, Police Colonel Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, admitted that a memorandum has yet to be issued on how field personnel would assist in checkpoints during travel restrictions in Western Visayas.

But she said that the Inter Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in the city and province of Iloilo have already conducted a meeting for that purpose.

Malong said the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council 6 will also meet today, March 16, to discuss the responses to COVID-19 threats.

Meanwhile, an officer who requested not to be named said, “we must be prepared even if we’re not.”

“We don’t know how to go about with the checkpoint. What are we going to ask motorists and commuters? Do we have the protective gear?” the officer said.

The officer added that they knew about the restriction and that they’re supposed to do the checkpoint through social media.

“The nitty-gritty part is still unclear to our fellow policemen considering that it will be done with less than a day notice,” the officer added.

When asked if they would arrest those who insist, the officer said they still have to discuss things soonest to iron things out.

“But it doesn’t mean that we’re hesitant to do this. This is our mandate. I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be clarified,” the officer said.

For several police officers, they claimed that their superiors should have been consulted when executive orders were issued.

“But we couldn’t even say, hey, we’re also affected by that order. Please inform us,” another officer said.

But most of them, while in dilemma on how to go through with the checkpoint, said they would report to work and project readiness to tackle the unknown.

Antique province announced that they would enforce community quarantine beginning Tuesday, March 17.

Governor Rhodora Cadiao clarified that the 14-day border restriction is not a lockdown but a pre-emptive drive because of the expected influx of visitors from other areas of the country, especially from Metro Manila.

On Sunday, Treñas issues Executive Order No. 50 “suspending and prohibiting non-essential entry of persons traveling by sea within the city of Iloilo to contain the spread and/or local transmission of Covid-19 cases from March 16 at 12 midnight until April 14, 2020, and for other purposes.

Even travelers from the neighboring provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, Aklan, and Guimaras would be refused entry unless they could present proof that their trip is an “essential entry.”

Iloilo province, Roxas City, Aklan have also moved to restrict travelers and moved for a 14-day quarantine of those coming from areas with confirmed COVID-19 positive case.

Guimaras has also banned tourists while Guimarasnons who come from other areas would also be subjected to 20-day quarantine period.