Critics on Monday have expressed grave concern over the proposal of a Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) official to imprison individuals caught without face masks in public.
On Friday, DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño, peeved by the growing number of quarantine violators, suggested that a 30-day jail term will solve the problem.
Specifically, Diño pointed out to those improperly wearing face masks in public saying it defeats the purpose of protecting them from acquiring COVID-19 and preventing the spread of the virus.
However, Diño’s proposal did not sit well with some health professionals saying putting the quarantine violators behind bars will cause the further transmission of the disease in the country’s already cramped jails.
Nursing aid Victorina Espejo said that instead of having them imprisoned, state forces should provide them with face masks or have them fined.
She noted that face masks and face shields are basic needs that the government should provide for free in the midst of the pandemic instead of imposing a “militaristic style’’ of law enforcement.
But Diño will have none of it insisting that the law should be strictly implemented down to the barangay level.
For those improperly wearing face masks, Diño wants a 15-day jail term for the violators while a 30-day imprisonment should be imposed on those “brave enough’’ to go out without wearing face masks.
Diño said that it should only be proper for them to enforce the full force of the law on the violators.
He also warned barangay officials on possible charges for neglect of duty if they allow “non-APOR (authorized persons outside residence) to go out in public even for non-essential purposes.
However, Diño said the rule is not absolute citing that there are some cases when individuals under the age of 21 or above 59 years old are the ones who can only go out for essential goods in their households.
The national government first mandated the wearing of face masks in public last April in areas under the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Eventually, the local government units (LGUs) passed ordinances requiring its residents to wear face masks in public following the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Health officials noted that face masks are essential tools in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 which is primarily spread by droplets.