Duterte orders police to arrest, probe people wearing masks improperly
MANILA, Philippines — Anyone caught wearing a mask improerly — such as placing it below the chin or nostrils — will be detained and investigated, President Rodrigo Duterte warned in a pre-recorded briefing that aired Wednesday night.
“My orders to the police are: Those who are not wearing their masks properly, in order to protect the public — because otherwise, you can’t protect the public — to arrest them,” the president said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“Detain them, investigate them why they are doing it. You have nine hours,” he added.
According to Duterte, he had to be strict because the government could not afford the piling up of cases as the country’s coffers were again being emptied.
“Many have died. Many are in hospitals. Experts said the number of infections has gone down. But the hospitals are still full. So, if you really have brains, if you are a thinking human person […] follow the orders of the government. That’s not for me. That’s not for us in government. It’s in the interest of the country that you don’t infect others and that you don’t get infected,” Duterte said.
While face masks do not guarantee 100-percent against COVID-19, health experts still recommend wearing them — even for people who had already been vaccinated.
The country has faced a COVID-19 surge lately, forcing the national government to place Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and then under a modified ECQ (MECQ).
While the surge has placed the country’s healthcare system in peril, it was not immediately blamed on non-adherence to health protocols but to the spread of more transmissible variants.
Currently, the country’s COVID-19 cases have significantly gone down from the 10,000 to 12,000 daily cases recorded during the peak of the surge. As of Wednesday, there were 1,073,555 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, of which 62,713 are active cases.
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