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Police in Philippines under fire

MANILA: Philippine police drew criticism from netizens and activists yesterday over a plan to monitor social media to enforce quarantine rules, with critics accusing the authorities of authoritarianism and double standards.

National Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, head of a task force enforcing quarantine protocols, warned of fines and penalties of community service for people violating precautionary measures, while violators of liquor bans will face "additional charges".

"Police could use public postings on social media as leads, and these will be over and above the police visibility operations we are conducting and will complement tips we get from police hotline," Mr Eleazar told Reuters by phone.

Manila ended a second round of strict lockdown measures on Aug 19 to boost business activity, but people still must wear masks in public and observe one-metre distancing, while children, the elderly and pregnant women are urged to stay at home.

The plan to monitor social media, announced on Saturday, seems to show the police agency "wants to use the pandemic to turn us into a police state, where every action is being watched by the authorities," Mr Renato Reyes, secretary general of left-wing activist group Bayan (Nation) said on Twitter.

Critics said the plan shows a double standard after a police chief was allowed to keep his post despite flouting a ban on social gatherings in May.

The Philippines has recorded 234,570 coronavirus cases, the highest in South-east Asia, with 3,790 deaths.

TOLL

Meanwhile, Indonesia reported 3,444 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 194,109, data from the country's health ministry website showed.

Authorities also reported 85 new deaths, taking the total to 8,025, the highest death toll in South-east Asia.

Malaysia recorded six cases yesterday, of which three were imported. This takes the total to 9,397 caes.

The death toll remains at 128. - REUTERS

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