Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), ordered all police uniformed personnel to refrain from hurting or imposing punishment on people who would be arrested for not wearing face masks based on the order of President Duterte.
“Puwede natin silang arestuhin pero hindi natin sila dapat parusahan at lalong hindi natin sila dapat saktan. Kapag ginawa ninyo ito, mananagot kayo sa akin (You can arrest them but we should not punish them much more hurt them. Otherwise, I will hold you accountable), ” said Eleazar.
In his recent public appearance, Duterte expressed anger and disappointment that a number of Filipinos would still refuse to wear face mask and even if they have face mask, they do not wear them properly. This prompted him to order the arrest of the violators.
Eleazar said the President’s order is a strong message that the national government is serious in implementing the minimum health safety standard protocols as part of the measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus which has so far infected more than one million Filipinos and claimed the lives of more than 18,000.
Citing his experience as the commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, Eleazar said the infection rate would always go down every time strict quarantine measures are being implemented like in the case in Metro Manila and nearby areas when Special Action Force commandos and soldiers were deployed last year and in Cebu City when the same security forces were deployed amid the sudden rise of COVID-19 cases.
He added that the reduction of COVID-19 cases in the past days after the sudden upsurge of cases in March as reported by the Department of Health is another proof that strict quarantine measures are indeed working.
“I understand the concerns of some people regarding the arrest of those not wearing face masks but this is a needed measure to ensure compliance of the people to observe the minimum health safety standard protocol,” said PGen Eleazar.
“I believe that most of the Filipinos are doing what needs to be done to protect themselves and their family pero meron talaga tayong mga kababayan na hindi talaga mapakiusapan at patuloy na nagpapasaway (but there are still a few who would continue violating it). The President’s order is for these hard-headed people,” he added.
Eleazar explained that the penalties for violation of the minimum health safety protocols are already embodied in the local ordinances such as imposition of fine and community service, and these should be used to discipline the violators.
“Para naman sa ating mga kababayan, mahigit isang taon na po tayong nilalabanan ang pandemya. Hindi na dapat kayo sinasabihan kung ano ang dapat gawin para protesksiyunan ninyo ang inyong sarili at pamilya at lalong hindi na dapat tayo nag-a-arestuhan pa. Muli nakikiusap ako na magsuot kayo ng face mask at sundin ang minimum health safety standard protocol dahil kung hindi, kayo naman ang mananagot sa amin (For our countrymen, we have been dealing with the pandemic for more than a year now. This is the time that you are not supposed to be told what to do and this is the time that we should no longer arresting violators. If you fail to wear face mask and observe minimum health safety standard, the PNP will hold you liable),” he added.