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Gamboa: Up to 40k cops ready to be deployed if lockdown will be implemented

More or less 40,000 policemen will be deployed in case the government decides to implement a lockdown in the National Capital Region due to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa said Wednesday.

In an ambush interview, Gamboa said the lockdown must get a go signal from the Department of Health, but he assured the public that the PNP is ready once the government implements it.

"We will be utilizing... the NCRPO has a strength of around 28,000. The PNP here in Camp Crame to include national separate units is around 10,000," Gamboa said.

"So, more or less, we have 38,000 to 40,000 to utilize in case these things would come up," Gamboa added.

For its part, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to extend assistance to the police once a lockdown is implemented.

"[The] AFP will assist if ever there will be one. We have forces in NCR and if needed, we can have more," AFP chief General Felimon Santos said.

Lockdown bill filed at Senate

At the Senate, a bill seeking to give the Department of Health (DOH) the power to lock down infected areas and suspend classes, among other measures, during times of public health emergencies was filed by Senator Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino said Senate Bill 1408 or the Health Emergency Lockdown Act will strengthen the country’s capacity to detect and contain infectious diseases amid the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

"Just as how viruses are incessantly changing due to genetic mutation, we must adapt and change our DNA on how we combat infectious diseases," he said.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda earlier suggested a one week lockdown of Metro Manila to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During the lockdown, Salceda said the following measures should be observed: suspension of classes, work stoppage, no bus trips, no domestic flights, and closure of South Luzon Expressway and North Luzon and Expressway and railways

At present, the Department of Health said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases already rose to 33.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said he is not yet inclined to implement a lockdown across the metro as the Philippines "has not reached the kind of contamination."

“There will be a time, I suppose, I hope not. I hope God will have mercy on the Filipino people. It’s too early," Duterte said. — RSJ, GMA News