The Philippines is looking at more apprehensions of quarantine violators following President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to law enforcers to be stricter in implementing COVID-19 restrictions.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said police were more tolerant of quarantine violators at the start of the lockdown despite existing protocols to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
"We don't apprehend, we don't jail them. We just fine or warn them," he said in Filipino.
With the President's directive, however, he said law enforcers will need to be stricter in apprehending quarantine violators.
"Mas madami tayo ngayong ma-a-apprehend. Kaya babala po sa ating mga kababayan, sana makinig po tayo sa mga pinapatupad na protocols ng ating bansa," he said.
First offenders could be penalized with community service, he said. while those with subsequent violations would face fines and even jail.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government is currently talking with local chief executives to standardize penalties for quarantine violators. Malaya said fines for quarantine violations vary in different areas, sometimes ranging from P2,000-P5,000.
President Duterte earlier said violations of the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places and the observance of physical distancing can be considered a "serious crime" given that the country is seeing an outbreak of infections.
"We have to ask our police to be more strict, hulihin talaga. A little shame would put them on notice forever," the President said in a speech aired Tuesday morning.
Getting arrested and detained would be a "lesson for all time," he added.
"Sino ba naman gustong mahuli ka? But if you are brought to the police station and detained there, that would give you a lesson for all time," Duterte said.
"We'll ask the police to function as they should in times like this."
The President made the remark as the country continues to record more COVID-19 infections following the major easing of lockdowns across the country.