After receiving flak, the Philippine National Police (PNP) assured the public yesterday that no breach of privacy would be committed by the police force as they monitor social media platforms to capture people breaking the existing rules on mass gatherings. 

PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police would respect the people’s privacy after several groups condemned the new directive.

“We will not invade their privacy. In fact, we don’t care about what happens inside homes in regard to quarantine rules,” Eleazar said in an interview on dzBB. “The notion that their privacy would be invaded is wrong.”

The PNP released orders over the weekend for the police force to monitor social media platforms to catch people violating health protocols. 

In May this year, also through social media, the public and the media uncovered a surprise party for Metro Manila Police Chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas who clearly violated quarantine rules, yet defended by President Rodrigo Duterte himself. 

Photos of Sinas’ birthday celebration were uploaded in the National Capital Region Police Office’s Facebook page and went viral before the entire album was deleted.

Meanwhile, groups and social media users aired their concern and frustration amid the PNP’s new directive of monitoring social media platforms to catch quarantine violators.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes denounced the PNP’s new directive and claimed that the police organization is using the pandemic as an opportunity to turn the Philippines into a police state.

“There’s so much to be done instead of telling police officers to spend so much time on Facebook. The PNP wants to use the pandemic to turn us into a police state, where every move is being watched,” Reyes said.

Eleazer, however, clarified that online monitoring would only be applicable to outdoor activities that are public posts, including viral posts and complaints received by the PNP’s social media accounts.

Government data shows 372,929 individuals have been flagged for violating health safety protocols since March. 

155,719 of the said total tally were warned, 117,219 were fined while the rest were detained and charged in court. RJ Espartinez