The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) plans to restore the use of ‘yantok’ (rattan), or wooden sticks, to enforce COVID-19 health protocols and discipline in the upcoming Simbang Gabi this Christmas.
This is what PMGen Vicente Danao Jr., chief of the NCRPO, shared in an interview with dzBB this Wednesday to ensure that attendees do not gather in the nine-day tradition starting December 16. He said it could also be used against aggressive individuals.
“In line of the upcoming Ligtas Kapaskuhan, we have made contingency plans para mailatag ang mga pulis hindi lamang sa mga simbahan kundi sa iba pang pampublikong lugar para sa kaligtasan ng publiko,” said Danao.
“‘Yung stick na dala ng mga pulis kasi ay ginagamit as a reminder na dapat sumunod sa social distancing. It can also be used as a disciplinary tool… this will be a last option.”
Simbang Gabi is held every morning before the 25th of December or the birth of Jesus. Catholics usually flock to the church to commemorate the occasion.
In December 2020, the then Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield, Police Lt Gen Cesar Binag, came under fire after he said that they would use rattan to beat up the “stubborn” who did not want to comply with the COVID-19 health protocols.
It was first criticized by some human rights advocates, such as Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay especially since it was a “militarist” method during the pandemic.
NCR police to use ‘yantok’ to implement Simbang Gabi health protocols
“Using militarist, punitive and often violent measures to implement health protocols have only fomented more brutal human rights violations under the lockdown,” Palabay said last year.
“From the torture and violent arrests of alleged quarantine violators, dehumanizing penalties and even death – and these measures have failed in curbing the spread of the pandemic.”
Former Philippine National Police spokesperson Brig Gen Ildebrandi Usana previously denied that the police did not have such an order to beat the violators.
“[W]ala pong ganoong utos ang [Chief, PNP]. In fact, ang gamit ng yantok para sa COVID-19 ay para maiwasan ang paghahawakan at kailangan lang po mapanatili ng pulis ang [physical] distancing [between] individuals using the nightstick (yantok),” he said.