There should be no ‘arrest by default’ for people wearing masks improperly – Robredo

(FILE) A member of the Highway Patrol Group asks a commuter to properly wear the face shield before boarding the carousel bus at EDSA-Taft in Pasay City. The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has required the public to wear both face shields and face masks at all times outside of their residences to stem the further spread of COVID-19. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said people who would be wearing masks improperly should not be arrested “by default,” which is in contrast to the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Duterte orders police to arrest, probe people wearing masks improperly

Robredo, in her weekly DZXL radio program, said she is confused why the government is inclined to arrest people, which she said is counterproductive to the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“Hindi ko alam kung bakit iyong bukambibig natin aresto,” she said.  (I don’t know why we are so focused on making arrests.)

“Hindi nakakatulong na ang default natin, aresto. Unang una, ang sitwasyon nga sa mga jail natin, grabe. Mag-aaresto ka kasi gusto mong i-protect iyong mga tao, pero lalong counterproductive iyon eh,” she explained.

(It will not help that our default is to make arrests. First of all, the situation in our jails is bad. You make arrests because you want to protect people? That is even more counterproductive )

READ: Eleazar to cops: Arrest mask violators, but don’t hurt them

Robredo said people should be reminded and warned instead, and, if they remain uncooperative, violators of health protocols should instead be made to render community service or be made to pay fines.

“Para sa akin, iyong multa, iyon na iyong mas later step. Iyong sa akin, mag-warning, turuan. Kapag matigas talaga iyong ulo, saka isipin kung ano iyong mga puwedeng penalties na ibigay,” she stressed. “Kung matigas talaga iyong ulo, eh ‘di siguro mayroong — gaya ng sabi ni Justice Secretary Guevarra, community service.”

(For me, the fines, that should be the more later steps. For me, they should be warned or instructed [first]. Only if they remain stubborn should we think of possible penalties that may be given. Maybe if someone’s really stubborn, then we can — as Justice Secretary Guevarra has said — impose community service.)

READ: Guevarra: Duterte’s order vs violators of face mask rule ‘takes effect immediately’

Robredo also noted that there are instances where prominent individuals who violated health protocols who were not arrested at all.

“Alam natin na mayroong malalaking tao na mas malalaki din iyong mga naging infraction na hindi naman inaresto. So maling … parang maling response.

(We know that there are prominent people who had bigger infractions but they were not arrested. So [making arrests] seem to be the wrong response.)

READ: President’s order vs mask rule violators hit as ‘cruel, prone to abuse’

The Philippines on Sunday crossed the 1.1 million mark for new coronavirus infections with 7,174 cases. The country now has 1,101,990 cases, including 1,022,24 recoveries, and 18,472 deaths.

READ: COVID-19 cases in PH cross 1.1-M mark with 7,174 new infections —DOH