Cebu governor scraps fines for mask violators
CEBU CITY—If you happen to be anywhere in Cebu province and you are caught without a face mask on, you will not worry about getting a fine or facing arrest.
This is after Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia announced that she would be removing the monetary penalties and other sanctions for those found not wearing masks in public places in the province.
In a video released by Sugbo News, the provincial government’s news and information page on Facebook, the governor said she would issue a memorandum to all mayors asking them to simply warn and remind violators to follow the health protocols to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
She also instructed police officials in the province to deal humanely with violators of quarantine protocols, particularly those not wearing masks.
“They can be reminded to wear a mask, admonished to wear a mask, but never should they be mistreated,” Garcia said in the video posted on Thursday.
“We are kinder to criminals than violators of this so-called mask-wearing thing. Let’s deal with the real criminals, not violators of some illogical imposition,” she added.
Garcia’s move came amid public outcry over the death of a curfew violator in Cavite province on April 3 as a consequence of being ordered to do 300 push-ups by local policemen who apprehended him for buying drinking water past the 6 p.m. curfew.
Another curfew violator in Calamba City in Laguna province died on April 8, hours after he was severely beaten by two village watchmen who arrested him for violating the curfew.
Detained for hours
Provinces and cities across the country have also been hauling into community centers hundreds of persons violating health protocols, like the failure to wear masks and face shields, where they were detained for hours, some overnight, before they were released after paying fines or rendering community service.
The governor said that requiring people to pay for violating the minimum health standards burdened ordinary workers who were struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s bad. It’s hard for our people now to eke out a living, and then you ask them to pay,” Garcia said.
For health reasons only
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, explained the need to follow all the health protocols, especially wearing masks, to prevent the spread of the virus.
She, however, clarified that the DOH can only recommend some measures to local governments on how to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise, Loreche said it was time for Filipinos to discipline themselves without fear of punishment.
She said there was a possibility that people would be complacent especially when there were no disciplinary measures.
Loreche appealed to people to always wear a mask, not for fear of penalty, but to prevent the transmission of the virus. INQ
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