Duterte urges police to 'have no qualms' in arresting those not wearing face masks

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - July 21, 2020 - 10:45am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged police to arrest citizens who fail to wear face masks in public amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"I have no qualms in arresting people who are not wearing [face] mask. It seems to be trivial, but during a time of pandemic, it can be a serious crime. You are transmitting virus, you are a carrier," Duterte said in a meeting with cabinet officials taped Monday but aired Tuesday morning.

"We'll have to ask our police to be more strict," he told Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

"If you are brought to a police station and detained there, that will give you a lesson for all time."

He added that he hates to arrest people for a "mere violation," but sees such a move as necessary to ensure cooperation.

The chief executive also called out local governments, saying that "mayors have to do more."

"There are mayors who refuse to abide by the rules. You want COVID to slow down or stop, wear a mask or do not go out if you do not want to wear one. [Thats all, along with] social distancing. There is no other way that you can prevent COVID from transferring from one person to another."

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told the president that he met with local officials along with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier Monday to talk about how to impose quarantine protocols more uniformly.

Just last week, doctor Tony Leachon, former adviser to the COVID-19 task force against COVID-19, revealed that he personally suggested to the president that the government provide face masks to poor Filipinos who may not be able to afford them.

"We think the poor don't behave but if they can't even buy food, what more masks? They want to wear masks, we have to provide access. We should shoulder the cost of the masks, particularly for the urban poor, because the middle class and upper class can afford it," Leachon told CNN Philippines in a mix of English and Filipino.

He added that the president seemed receptive to the idea and ordered his health secretary to look into it.

"Masks, this is what's really important. If you don't have any, I will try to buy as many as I can afford. We will give it to you, but wear it," Duterte told the public in a mix of English and Filipino.

However, he offered no further details on the initiative even as arrests of quarantine violators which have been flagged by lawmakers as "overzealous" and "disproportionate" are ongoing.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 23, 2021 - 4:05pm

Other regions and provinces in the Philippines considered moderate and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine starting May 1. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Edd Gumban)

January 23, 2021 - 4:05pm

The Department of Health logs an additional 1,797 COVID-19 infections. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines to 511,679.

To date, there are 33,603 active cases. Total deaths now at 10,190 with 54 new fatalities. Total recoveries increase to 467,886 with 166 new recoveries.

January 22, 2021 - 4:03pm

The Department of Health registers 2,178 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 509,887.

Of the confirmed cases, 32,031 are active. Total deaths now at 10,136 with 20 new fatalities. Total recoveries climb to 467,720 with 250 new recoveries.

January 21, 2021 - 7:17pm

A Social Weather Stations survey shows that 69% of Filipino families received financial aid from the government since the COVID-19 crisis started.

Meanwhile, 7% of families say they received help from the private sector.

The poll was conducted from Nov. 21 to 25, 2020 using face-to-face interviews among 1,500 adults nationwide.

January 21, 2021 - 4:18pm

The Department of Health logs another 1,783 coronavirus cases Thursday, pushing the national tally to 507,717, of which 30,126 or 5.9% are active cases.

The country's death toll is at 10,116 with 74 additional deaths reported.

Total of survivors stand at 467,475 with 500 more recoveries recorded.

January 21, 2021 - 4:10pm

The Department of Health logs an additional 1,783 COVID-19 infections, bringing the national tally to 507,717.

To date, there are 30,126 or 5.9% active cases. Recoveries at 467,475 after 500 more people were cleared of the deadly virus. Death toll climb by 74 to 10,116.

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