MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday instructed police to arrest people who do not wear their anti-virus masks properly, contradicting the justice department's advice on handling violation of protocols to contain COVID-19.
Duterte said hospitals are still swamped with coronavirus infections. The public needs to mask up and follow other rules, “if you are a thinking person,” he said.
“My orders to the police are, those who are not working their masks properly, in order to protect the public . . . arrest them and detain them, investigate them why they are doing it,” Duterte said in a taped speech.
“‘Pag hindi ko ganunin, hindi ko higpitan, walang mangyayari . . . Ako dito hirap na hirap, pawala na iyong pera natin sa bangko tapos sige pa rin kayo, galaw nang galaw d’yan nang hindi tama, mapupunta talaga kayo sa istasyon.”
(If I don't not tighten the rules, nothing will happen. I'm having a hard time here. Our funds our running out, and yet you continue to act recklessly. You will really end up at the police station.)
Last month, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra urged the task force leading the country's pandemic response not to arrest or detain violators and impose community service instead.
Duterte in February acknowledged he would sometimes take his face mask off.
"I’ve been criticized, tama kayo na eto si Duterte nagsasalita, hindi naman sinusunod. Tama kayo na hindi naman magma-mask. Tama kayo," Duterte said in a televised speech.
(I’ve been criticized. You are right, 'Duterte talks, he doesn't do what he says'. You are right that I don't wear a mask.)
"Hindi ho ako holdaper na sanay magsalita nitong naka—kaya tinatanggal ko," he said, without a face mask on.
(I am not a robber used to wearing a mask. That's why I remove it.)
To avoid COVID-19, the World Health Organization recommends wearing a mask when one is indoors and regardless of distance from others.
The government requires Filipinos to wear anti-virus masks and full face shields in all public areas.