Guidelines on arrest of violators of COVID protocols out next week – DOJ

Department of Justice

The guidelines on the arrest of persons who are not wearing or improperly wearing face masks in public places and the apprehension of barangay officials who fail to enforce restrictions on mass gatherings will be made public early next week, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay said Friday afternoon, May 28.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra had signed the joint memorandum circular (JMC) that contains the guidelines.

“The JMC will be routed to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo M. Ano) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) Chief (Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar) for their signature,” Guevarra said.

He said the guidelines will be made public “so that the people are fully apprised and, thus, may act accordingly.”
On the implementation of the guidelines, Sugay said “the PNP shall strictly observe the Rules of Court, particularly the rule on warrantless arrests, and relevant policies protocols in the enforcement of all relevant rules, guidelines, and ordinances.”

On barangay officials, he said “the guidelines provide that the DILG shall hold accountable all local government officials for violation of, among others, the Local Government Code, Revised Penal Code, and Republic Act No. 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act) for failure to enforce all relevant guidelines, laws, and ordinances.”

Last April, President Duterte ordered the arrest, detention, and investigation of persons who are found not wearing or improperly wearing face masks – violations of health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Thereafter, the President directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DILG to draft rules for law enforcement agents on how to pursue the directive.

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

“The President’s directive 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,” he explained.

Last Wednesday, President Duterte ordered the arrest of barangay captains who fail to enforce the rules against mass gatherings in their areas.

The President said the barangay leaders could be charged with dereliction of duty under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) since they are “persons in authority” who must enforce the law in their communities.

Article 208 of RPC provides that "the penalty of prision correccional (jail term ranging from six months and one day to six years) in its minimum period and suspension shall be imposed upon any public officer, or officer of the law, who, in dereliction of the duties of his office, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses."