Policemen can conduct warrantless arrests against persons violating the local ordinances on wearing of face masks in public as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, Malacañang said Thursday.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, a law enforcer may arrest a person without a warrant if they witness or have personal knowledge about the quarantine violation.
President Duterte earlier ordered the police to arrest and detain people who fail to wear their face masks properly. Duterte, concerned about the poor compliance with the mask rule, said violators could be detained for “nine hours” at the police station.
“May karapatan ang pulis na mag-apprehend kapag sila mismo ay nakakita o naging testigo sa paglabag ng batas or ordinansya (The police can apprehend if they witness the violation of the law or ordinance),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, May 6.
“Ang paglabag sa ating mga minimum health protocosls dahil may ordinansya na nagpapatupad niyan, ay nagbibigay daan para magkaroon ng (The violation of our minimum health protocols, since there are ordinances implementing them, paves the way for the) outright apprehension, warrantless arrest dahil (because) a crime was committed in the presence and with the full personal knowledge of the police officer),” he added.
He said the police could place the quarantine violator under detention not more than 12 hours, adding the person must be released if they won’t pursue a case.
“So iyong pag-aresto naman po, dapat po sang-ayon po iyan sa ordinansa o sang-ayon sa batas. Kung wala pong ordinansa ay nakasaad naman po sa Revised Penal Code ‘no na maximum of 12 hours ‘no at kung hindi makasuhan ay kinakailangan pawalan (The arrest must be based on an ordinance or the law. If there is no ordinance, the Revised Penal Code states a maximum of 12 hours. If no case will be filed, the person must be released),” he said.
Roque denied that the President’s latest directive on the arrest of mask rule violators was harsh. On the penalty against the quarantine violator, Roque said community service has already been recommended by the justice department.
Roque appealed anew to the public to continue to follow minimum public health stands, from mask wearing to physical distancing, for their own health and protection.
“Ang mensahe po ng Presidente sa ating kapulisan at sa taumbayan, para po sa ating kapakanan ang pagsunod sa minimum health standards at ipapatupad lang po natin iyan dahil sa panahon ng pandemya kinakailangan po sumunod ang lahat lalung-lalo na po sa pagsusuot ng face mask at ang face shield (The President’s message to our police and public is compliance with minimum public health standards are for your own good. Let’s us follow them because during the pandemic, everyone must follow rules especially on wearing face mask and face shield),” he said.
The country’s cases of coronavirus have already soared more than a million, that prompted the government to tighten movement curbs to suppress the case surge. The government has moved to boost the country’s health care capacity to accommodate patients while stepping up the vaccination drive to boost protection against the virus.