Local chief executives have agreed to come up with a uniform policy aimed at imposing tougher sanctions against those who violate health protocols as part of response efforts to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Interior Secretary Eduardo said on Wednesday.
“Magkakaroon na kami ng uniform implementation kung papaano ipapatupad ‘yung (We will come up with a uniform implementation on how to implement) health standards… number of days in prison, kapag nag-violate ka ng hindi pagsuot ng mask (if you commit a violation for non-wearing of a mask). We suggest 10 to 30 days, physical distancing also 10 to 30 days imprisonment. For fines, it’s about PHP1,000 to PHP5,000,” Año said during a virtual pre-SONA forum briefing.
The measures, which will be implemented through ordinances, came as Covid-19 cases continue to rise and have already reached over 70,000.
In a taped public address on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed police officers to arrest people not wearing face masks while outside their homes as well as those not practicing social distancing, two of the health protocols vital to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.
Año, meanwhile, said Metro Manila reverting to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) has always been a possibility.
Currently, Metro Manila is under the general community quarantine (GCQ) with local government units (LGUs) having the authority to impose localized lockdowns.
Before deciding again on the new classifications, there would be factors to be looked at such as the risk factors on social, economic, and security grounds, Año said.
“Today, di pa natin masabi ang susunod na classification natin [we still can’t say what would be the next classification], we still have 9 days to go,” Año said.
Año assured that the evaluation and analysis would always depend on science and the suggestions of the experts.
For now, he said consultations among members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) would continue.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid shield Commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the primary implementer of the quarantine protocols ordered police commanders to coordinate closely with the local government units, particularly the barangays to ensure that residents in their areas of responsibility strictly adhere to the health protocols.
In a statement, Eleazar said the LGUs, through their Public Order and Safety personnel, and the barangays, through their barangay security officers or popularly known as barangay tanods (watchmen), would play a key role in enforcing the minimum health safety protocols particularly through the conduct of regular patrol in the alleys, streets and public places in their communities.
“Since police forces are not enough to guard every street of the country, the barangay tanod is of great help as force multipliers in the maintenance of peace and order. And with the country under the threat of Covid-19, the intensified visibility of barangay tanod in their respective communities is a good deterrent against the complacency of their respective constituents in complying with the minimum health safety protocols,” he added. (PNA)