MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City local government urged the public Monday to be wary of a post circulating on social media, alleging that the city would be implementing a policy of indiscriminate arrests for quarantine violators.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the city said: "This alarmist post includes numerous points that are blatantly false, combined with misleading distortions of the truth."
"To be clear, there will be no deviation from existing enforcement policy, and arrests will only be made in rare and extreme circumstances," it added.
The city government, in its statement, said that it would not arrest anyone who misses "curfew by a few seconds" or any drivers overtaking trucks at checkpoints which "is not even mentioned in the guidelines." City ordinances also make no mention of mandatory wearing of face masks inside cars.
On the subject of social distancing protocols and prohibitions on mass gatherings, the city reminded the public that every city has been instructed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to implement similar guidelines.
The city added that both the criminality of refusal to surrender to arresting authorities and parental responsibility for children have long been accepted standards in the Revised Penal Code and the Civil Code, respectively.
"Any abuses done while enforcing national and city safeguard measures shall be dealt with severely and prosecuted to the utmost extent of the law. Please continue to guard yourself against misinformation, and stay safe," the statement read.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte issued an executive order this month strengthening the People's Law Enforcement Board, which is a desk for citizens to air grievances over any cases of abuse committed by policemen.
Personnel of the Quezon City Police District have nonetheless figured in a number of incidents during the monthslong community quarantine, including the killing of a former soldier, the arrest of a journalist for taking his mask off to sip his drink, and for entering the University of the Philippines campus with a gun during a peaceful protest.
Four village watchmen and enforcers under the city's Task Force Disiplina were also caught on video beating a man with a stick for not wearing a face mask and not having a quarantine pass. Only one of the four has been removed from service.
Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.
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