Doc nabbed for biking without face shield pays P6K bail
This undated file photo shows boxes of face shields, which the government has required people wear over their face masks when out in public.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file

Doc nabbed for biking without face shield pays P6K bail

(Philstar.com) - April 8, 2021 - 3:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — A doctor who was held at a police station in Cainta, Rizal for three nights for not wearing a face shield while biking faces disobedience and unjust vexation charges.

The doctor, whose arrest was detailed by a friend in a now-viral tweet thread, was arrested on Sunday and released on Wednesday. He was slapped with simple disobedience and unjust vexation charges, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento confirmed.

The unnamed doctor also had to pay a P3,000 bond for each charge, Malcontento added.

According to the tweet thread from an account claiming to be the doctor’s friend, the healthcare practitioner was biking to work when he was stopped for supposedly not wearing a face shield. The friend said the doctor moonlights in different hospitals at the moment.

The arrest happened despite a joint memorandum from government agencies exempting cyclists and other active transport users from wearing face shields due to potential safety risks.

The Department of Health reiterated this advisory on Thursday morning, following “increasing reports of and other active transport users being arrested for not wearing face shields.”

The doctor supposedly protested the apprehension which led to police booking him for “resisting arrest” complaints.

'Disobedience' often used in quarantine enforcement

Disobedience to authorities is one of the complaints commonly filed against quarantine violators since the start of the pandemic-induced lockdown last year. Those accused of allegedly violating health protocols also faced violation of Republic Act 11332 complaints, for “non-cooperation.”

The arrests and the often harsh implementation of quarantine restrictions has highlighted how government often excuses similar violations by politicians and government officials. 

After a year of arrests, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said he recommended to local government units to impose community service on quarantine violators instead of imprisonment, as Metro Manila, Rizal and three nearby provinces revert to enhanced community quarantine status.

"For statutes like mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases, there is a provision on non-cooperation, but you know it does not exactly fit the bill, it is not very exact to the actual violation," Guevarra said in English and Filipino. "So we are relying more on ordinances issued by the local government units rather than a nationwide general statute like Republic Act 11332."

The doctor was arrested a day before Guevarra’s statement.

The arrest also happened at a time when the country’s healthcare system is severely burdened due to an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections. — Kristine Joy Patag

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