Authorities will use their yantok or rattan sticks only for "self-defense" in case they are armed by those who refuse to follow social distancing rules, the head of a security task force on COVID-19 in Metro Manila said Monday.
The use of the sticks, which came as the government moved to prevent a spike in coronavirus infections during the Chirstmas holidays, drew the ire of the Commission on Human Rights and activist groups.
"Kapag inassault nila yung ating mga authorities, kasama ang ating barangay, wala tayong magagawa kundi depensahan ang sarili natin at arestuhin kayo," said Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, chief of Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
The sticks can be used for "unarmed arresting" of quarantine violators, Binag told TeleRadyo. The yantok sticks are one meter in length, the minimum required distance between two individuals to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Metro Manila, Davao City and other urban areas are under GCQ, the second lowest quarantine classification while the rest of the country is under MGCQ, one notch lower. The quarantines are effective until Dec. 31.
Earlier this week, Health Sec. Francisco Duque and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno inspected Divisoria to ensure that shoppers in the capital city's bargain haven follow COVID protocols.
Metro Manila mayors also rejected a proposal to allow minors inside shopping malls for the first time since quarantines were imposed last March.
To streamline contact-tracing efforts, the country's pandemic response task force is requiring all establishments to adopt StaySafe as the single tracking app.
KEEP SAFE FROM COVID DURING THE HOLIDAYS: