Following an investigation into the deployment of COVID-19 infected members of the police, the Quezon City government said Thursday that the 51 police officers who tested positive of the coronavirus did not come in close contact with the public.
Members of the Quezon City Police Station 3 (Talipapa) were deployed during the State of the Nation Address last Monday, July 26 even before they received the COVID-19 swab test results.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte previously stated that 82 cops from the Talipapa police station tested positive on July 28.
They underwent swab tests on July 23, three days ahead of SONA. The results only came out on Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra, director of the Quezon City Police District, later stated that 51 of these 82 infected cops were deployed as part of the security contingent during President Rodrigo Duterte’s last address.
These reports eventually caused public alarm on social media, particularly among the street protesters who held their annual demonstrations.
In a statement, now-former QCPD and Police Station 3 Commander Lt. Col. Cristine Tabdi said “the police officers were assigned as route security and did not directly engage with the public including rallyists.”
Tabdi was relieved from her duties later that day, said National Police chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar.
“In view of the apparent breach of protocol when most of these PNP personnel were deployed for SONA duties even if they were still waiting for their RT-PCR results, I have already ordered the administrative relief of the Station Commander, Police Station 3 of the QCPD, for command responsibility,” Eleazar said in a statement.
Some social media users were still not satisfied. They stressed that the infected police officers might have already caught COVID-19 even before being deployed during SONA.
“Incubation period of COVID-19 is 7-10 days as per DOH. So Lunes lang ang SONA. Like before SONA, infected na sila,” one user said.
Others noted that aside from those part of SONA security, the police were also deployed in other areas, thus making them “superspreaders.”
“PNP deployment ang superspreader. Wala silang physical distancing. Hinarang pa ang mga nag martsa,” one user said.
“Pero dineploy sila sa kung saan saan. Kung nahawa sila dahil sama-sama sila sa station nila, at kalat-kalat deployment nila nung SONA, baka may mga nahawa silang iba kung saan sila na deploy,” another user wrote.
Response of the QCPD
The 82 infected uniformed and non-uniformed personnel have been taken to the city’s HOPE quarantine facilities.
The remaining 102 officers from the Talipapa Police Station, meanwhile, would undergo testing again after one week.
Of these, 42 were identified to be in close contact to other positive patients. They will be isolated at a quarantine facility in Camp Karingal while waiting to be tested.
The other 60 were not exposed, the city government said.
Because of this, they will remain on duty at the station, though, they will not be allowed to go home until their test results arrive.
Col. Ferdinand Navarro, QCPD Deputy Director for Administration, stated that they adopted these measures to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19.
“Ito ang paraan natin para masiguro na hindi kakalat ang virus. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Quezon City Government sa kanilang maagap na testing sa ating hanay at ang mabilis na pagtugon sa mga natuklasang kinapitan ng Covid-19,” he said.
Moreover, Mayor Belmonte also ordered the immediate vaccination of “the remaining 536 commissioned and non-commissioned police officers and non-uniformed personnel in the Quezon City Police District, who were not inoculated because of vaccine hesitancy, medical reasons or they were recently assigned to the district.”