Tri Indah Oktavianti, Jakarta – The National Police have vowed to back up the government's policy on large-scale social restrictions by stepping up law enforcement related to COVID-19 measures.
Even before the policy was officially applied, the police had arrested 18 people who allegedly ignored social-distancing measures.
"We will give three warnings against public gatherings. After the warnings, we will disperse the gathering. Anyone caught ignoring both measures will be immediately taken to the police station," National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said in a press conference on Monday.
He added that the National Police had dispersed 10,873 gatherings nationwide so far.
In addition, 18 people have been taken to the Jakarta Police headquarters for ignoring social-distancing measures, but no charges will be pressed against them.
In East Java, meanwhile, around 3,000 people have received warnings from the local police for disobeying the government's call. They all signed a statement of compliance with social-distancing orders.
"We are still using a friendly approach. However, we will take stricter measures if necessary," Argo said.
Last week, netizens caught wind of a wedding reception held by former Kembangan Police chief Comr. Fahrul Sudiana in a luxury hotel on March 21, two days after the National Police issued an edict to prohibit mass gatherings.
Later, pictures of National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Gatot Eddy Pramono attending the wedding began circulating on social media, prompting National Police Commission (Kompolnas) to speak up.
"All police personnel who attended the event must be questioned by internal affairs," he said as quoted by Kompas TV.
Fahrul was demoted as a result but did not face charges. The punishment was criticized by netizens who deemed it to light.
Argo has not responded to The Jakarta Post's question on whether Fahrul received additional sanctions for violating the edict.
Neither the National Police nor the Jakarta Police have commented about Gatot's presence at the party.
Idham's eight orders
National Police chief Gen. Idham Aziz issued on Tuesday a set of instructions to his subordinates following the issuance of a presidential decree on public health emergency concerning COVID-19:
While the National Police have pledged to tighten measures for large-scale social restrictions, they did not elaborate on whether employers who refuse to follow the work-from-home policy would be sanctioned or exempt from the rules.
The head of the National Police's criminal investigation department, Comr. Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo, told the Post that the police had referred to the Health Ministry's regulation on social restrictions, which sill allowed businesses to open as long as they obeyed COVID-19 protocols and physical distancing.
Article 13 (8) of the regulation exempts the following businesses from the work-from-home rule: security and defense, public order, food and beverages, oil and gas, health, economic and finance-related services, communication, industrial complexes, export and import, distribution services, logistics and other companies providing basic needs.
They are allowed to continue their day-to-day operations.
The police did not answer the Post's question on what would happen to companies not included in the aforementioned list that still force their employees to come to work.
In comparison, the Singaporean government has stated clearly that it would penalize companies that continued to operate from their offices even though it was possible for their employees to work from home.
Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) chairperson Asfinawati warned that scaring people with the police would not encourage them to stay at home. They need to be assured that they will not lose their income, she added.
Hate speech against Jokowi
Argo announced that the police have arrested a total of 76 people for allegedly spreading fake news and misinformation on COVID-19.
The cybercrime directorate at the National Police's criminal investigation department arrested a man named Ali Baharsyah in East Jakarta on Friday for allegedly spreading hate speech related to COVID-19 against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo through a video posted on social media.
Ali criticized Jokowi's civil emergency policies and used an expletive in his post. He also asked why the President did not enact Law No. 6/2018 on health quarantines to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He was charged under Article 28 (2) of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) law on racial and ethnic discrimination and Article 207 on defamation against the president.To step up the role of the police, Idham has called on his subordinates to monitor the "development of the situation and opinions [expressed] in cyberspace" in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a leaked classified police telegram issued on Saturday.
The telegram said that anyone caught spreading false information related to government policies in handling contagious disease will be subject to articles 14 and/or 15 of the Criminal Code, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.
Meanwhile, anyone caught insulting the President and other top officials in relation to COVID-19 policies will be charged under the Criminal Code's Article 207 with one and a half years in prison.