President Rodrigo Duterte called on the police to arrest and subsequently detain those who will not wear a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have no qualms in arresting people who are not wearing [face] mask. It seems to be trivial, but during a time of pandemic, it can be a serious crime. You are transmitting virus, you are a carrier,” Duterte said in a meeting with Cabinet officials aired on Tuesday morning.
“You have to ask our police to be more strict. Hulihin talaga. If you are brought to a police station and detained there, that will give you a lesson for all time,” Duterte added, addressing Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año.
The President then said that such strict enforcement starts with local officials.
“I hate to arrest people for the mere violation of that rule [to wear face mask], pero kailangan ng cooperation. The mayors have to do more,” Duterte said.
Año said the DILG already met with mayors, governors and barangay officials earlier in the day, and that they agreed to come up with a uniform policy on detaining individuals who will fail to wear a face mask and violate social distancing.
For his part, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque asked the public to wait for the ordinances to be issued on the matter.
“The police can tell individuals to wear masks. They can ask the individuals to go home and get their masks and put it on. Pero sa ngayon po it is just to encourage people to wear masks,” he said in a televised briefing on Tuesday.
“Antayin po natin ang ordinansa dahil kinakailangan nating malaman kung ano ‘yung magiging parusa doon sa mga hindi magsusuot ng mask sa publiko, Roque added.
The President made the call to arrest those who fail to wear face mask just four days after the New York Times—citing findings from the Imperial College of London—reported that 91% of Filipinos always wear a face mask when going out of their homes—the highest percentage in the world.
The Department of Health (DOH) said its goal is still to achieve 100% compliance from the public.
Duterte also said he will try to buy as many masks as he can to give to those who don’t have any.
"Masks ito importante talaga. Ngayon, kung wala kayo I will try to buy as many as I can afford kung kaya ko, ibigay namin 'yan sa inyo libre but wear it," Duterte said.
He also gave some “hacks” on how to preserve a face mask so it can be reused.
"Maski na gamitin mo 'yan dalawang beses, okay man, i-sprayan mo na lang ng alcohol... Pagkatapos ng araw, hang it somewhere. I-sprayan mo ng Lysol if you can afford it. 'Yung wala, ibabad mo ng gasolina o diesel. Pu***g i** COVID-19 na 'yan, di uubra 'yan diyan," he added.
Figures showed by DOH on Monday revealed that 68,898 Filipinos got COVID-19. Of this number, 23,072 recovered while 1,835 died.
There are also 43,991 active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine, 90.6% of which are mild, 8.5% are asymptomatic, 0.4% are severe, and 0.5% are in critical condition. —KG, GMA News