Recently-appointed national police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has assured that all those arrested for not wearing masks, as part of health protocols prescribed by the government to prevent the spread of the Covid19 virus, won’t be punished.
In one of his most significant orders issued since assuming the helm of the 220,000-man Philippine National Police (PNP) recently (vice Gen. Debold Sinas), he ruled out totally imposition of strenuous physical exercise as penalty for violators.
“We can arrest them but we cannot punish them, except in accordance with existing laws and ordinances. And most importantly we should not injure them. If you harm them, you will be answerable to me,” he said in a televised interview last week. “Do not hurt the people arrested for quarantine violations.”
Eleazar clarified that only local government units and courts can effect punishment based on existing laws in their respective jurisdictions.
Earlier, President Duterte ordered the PNP to detain and investigate all persons who were caught not wearing face masks in public, in view of the fact the country is in the midst of a crippling health crisis.
Duterte said he had no qualms in ordering the arrest of violators of health protocols in order to protect the general public against being infected by the virus by hard-headed people, and to curb its spread.
“Pag di ko ganunin, walang mangyayari,” he reasoned further.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had previously asked the Inter-Agency Anti-Covid Task Force (IATF) for some leniency towards health protocols violators in not having them arrested and instead requiring them to perform community service.
In line with the presidential directive, however, Eleazar said he is ordering his men to prepare detention facilities for persons taken into custody for facemask violations.
He said a suspect may be detained for a maximum of 12 hours under existing laws before they should be set free.
Earlier this year, in General Trias, Cavite, 28-year old Darren Penaredondo died after PNP men told him to do 300 push-ups as his punishment for violating the quarantine curfew, as he had to buy water for his kids.
In Calamba City, barangay tanods allegedly beat to death Ernani Jimenez, 26, for a similar curfew transgression.
Photo: Daily Tribune