DOJ, DILG drafting rules on arrests of persons not wearing face masks

Published May 6, 2021, 4:41 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have begun drafting guidelines on the enforcement of President Duterte’s order to arrest, detain and investigate persons who do not wear face masks in public places and those who wear them improperly.

But even without the guidelines, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday afternoon, May 6, stressed that the police may start arresting persons. “The President’s directive takes effect immediately even without the guidelines,” he said.

Guevarra reminded that local government units (LGUs) have “existing ordinances pertaining to health protocols and imposing penalties for violations thereof.”

“The best way to avoid being arrested while the guidelines are being formulated is to wear a face mask and obey the law,” he advised the public.

In accordance with existing rules, Guevarra said “arrested individuals will undergo inquest procedures conducted by DOJ prosecutors.”

He said the President has directed the drafting of guidelines “fully aware of the complications that may arise from effecting arrests… such as the problem of congested jails or detention centers.”

Guevarra said that among the matters the guidelines would seek to address include “the manner, time or place of booking, detention, and investigation para maiwasan ang (to avoid) overcrowding and avoid the very evil sought to be prevented.”

On the other hand, Guevarra urged LGUs to “consider imposing community service as an alternative to stiff fines or imprisonment as a penalty for violation of such ordinances.”

“The MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) has expressed its concurrence with the proposal,” he said.

Explaining the President’s directive, Guevarra said “it is part of the government’s strategy of strictly implementing health protocols, such as wearing of face masks, so that the spread of the disease is put under control and the full opening of the economy is accelerated.”