This was how a face mask ordinance violation was handled in Mandaluyong City

April 29, 2020 - 8:06 PM
Mandaluyong ECQ
A Philippine Army reservist reprimands a violator for not wearing a face mask in public at Mandaluyong City. (Photo from Mandaluyong City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office via Facebook)

Instead of arresting the violator, a Philippine Army reservist handed a face mask to a citizen in Barangay Addition Hills at Mandaluyong City who violated the local mask ordinance.

Mandaluyong City’s Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Office reported that an unnamed Filipino walking along F. Martinez Street was reprimanded for not wearing a face mask in public.

The reservist informed him that wearing face masks in public is mandatory in the city. He then gave the violator a face mask from the stash they have instead of arresting him.

Under Mandaluyong’s City Ordinance No. 767, it is prohibited to be in public without a face mask. Violators can be fined for P5,000 or be imprisoned for a week.

Residents can wear different types of face masks (be it surgical, cloth or a do-it-yourself mask), as long as it properly covers their nose and mouth.

Mask-related violations

Meanwhile, the reservist’s non-violent approach to the ordinance violator was lauded by Filipinos who commented that it should be similarly practiced by other law enforcers while they implement the enhanced community quarantine guidelines.

“Oh ‘di ba? Was that so hard to do? Kung walang mask, bigyan at pagsabihan. Kung nasa labas, tanungin lang kung bakit para if ever, i-assist na rin,” a Facebook user said.

“Kita mo ‘yon, pwede naman palang hindi maggulpihan? PNP (Philippine National Police), baka gusto niyong gayahin. Ok lang naman kumopya ng diskarte,” an online user from Reddit Philippines said.

Nakakatuwa yung mga Army reservists na nagbabantay sa checkpoint sa Mandaluyong, sa halip na batutain o saktan ang lumalabag sa ECQ, binibigyan pa nila ng face mask ang mga wala… Kahanga-hanga,” a Twitter user said. 

Others couldn’t help but recall other recent face mask-related violations that turned violent as law enforcers tried to implement the quarantine guidelines.

Last Sunday, a resident of Dasmariñas Village in Makati City figured in an altercation with a police officer dressed in fatigue uniform after the former’s househelper was reprimanded for not wearing a face mask in public.

The househelper was watering plants located outside the house but within the resident’s property.

The resident, Spanish national Javier Parra, eventually argued with the police officer until the former held him on the ground despite pleas from Parra’s wife saying he has a “back injury.”

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that foreigners are not exempted from the quarantine protocols.

A fish vendor in Panay Avenue, Quezon City named Michael Rubuia was also physically assaulted by barangay watchmen for not wearing a face mask and bringing a quarantine pass in public.

He was hit by sticks and dragged on the road despite the surrounding residents urging the officials to stop.

The Quezon City government said that it has already issued show cause orders to the officers involved, as well as sent out lawyers and investigators to the place where the incident happened to gather evidence.

Quezon City’s Task Force Disiplina also said it is dropping its complaint against  Rubuia.

Former city councilor Rannie Ludovica, the head of the city’s Task Force Disiplina, also recommended the officers to be suspended pending the investigation.

Uphold human rights 

The violence-laden incidents also prompted some Filipinos to share how other countries are implementing quarantine protocols.

“QC police officers beat up and arrested a man for not wearing a face mask. In Vietnam, the cops would’ve given him one,” a Twitter user wrote.

Vietnam is also fining people for not wearing a face mask in public as measures against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnam riders
Bikers wear protective face masks as they stop outside a luxury shopping mall on the reopening day after the government eased the nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam April 23, 2020. (Reuters/Kham)

Instead of resorting to violence, police officers in Hanoi—the capital of Vietnam—have resorted to handing out face masks for free. Some are even instructing citizens on how to wear it properly.

Foreign nationals are also given free face masks as well.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch has urged the Philippine government to prevent its law enforcers from abusing the rights of the citizens amid implementing quarantine protocols.

RELATED: Law enforcers must have clear-cut guidelines in implementing quarantine protocols, says CHR

It has already taken note of instances of abuse experienced by Filipinos, including minors, during the enhanced community quarantine period.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, the head of the agency attached to the Philippine National Police, similarly discouraged the use of excessive punishment to violators.

“Hindi naman ibig sabihin ay i-violate mo ‘yung kanyang human rights o kaya ima-maltrato mo sila,” he said in an interview.

Martin Diño, DILG’s Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs, similarly said that enforcers should exercise “maximum tolerance” and ensure that due process of the law must be observed at all times.

“Una sa lahat, meron tayong batas pero hindi mo dapat saktan, ‘yan na nga ‘yung inaano natin sa mga barangay ngayon. Kailangan ‘yung… proseso pa rin ng batas ang ating gagawin diyan,” he said.

“In the event na lumaban ‘yan, that’s the time na puwede mong ipagtanggol ang iyong sarili, maliwanag tayo diyan… Kailangang arestuhin kasi may batas na dapat ipatupad eh. Kailangan talaga maximum tolerance ka pa rin diyan,” Diño added.