THE use of sticks to enforce social distancing in the city has been implemented by the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) since December 1.

Colonel Allen Rae Co, BCPO director, said the use of the stick for peace and order is effective.

"It is actually a very handy tool for measuring distancing between individuals which is its primary use," clarified Co.

Lieutenant General Hawthorne Binag, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, announced on Friday, December 4, that policemen will be armed with a one-meter wooden stick to enforce physical distancing and serve as "pamalo doon sa matitigas ang ulo" (to beat violators).

"Meron pa kaming tinawag na social distancing patrol at ito 'yung inutos sa atin ng Chief PNP si General (Debold) Sinas. May hawak na yantok yan, isang metro yan, pangsaway tapos panukat (at) pamalo na rin kung doon sa matitigas ang ulo," Binag said.

He said the new directive can be used as a defensive tool.

"In law enforcement, there is such a thing as quantum of force that is the application of force to prevent the commission of a crime," added Co.

Human rights watchdog Karapatan on Monday, December 7, 2020, slammed the Philippine National Police (PNP) over the use of wooden sticks to enforce physical distancing in public places.

In the city, BCPO confirmed the use of the sticks for social distancing Tuesday, December 8, but clarified, "the force should be commensurate with the crime and/or the threat to the police officer or the public. So it can range from the baton, Taser Guns up to deadly force (firearms). So instead of dealing with every kind of threat with a firearm, we use the baton first."

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said this is ineffective and "ultimately dangerous." (With a report from SunStar Philippines)