As the government continues to grapple with rising COVID-19 cases, President Rodrigo Duterte wants quarantine violators detained to “give them a lesson for all time.”
During his address to the nation aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte reminded the police to impose stricter enforcement of quarantine rules to address surge in infections in localities.
“We’ll have to ask our police to be more strict. Hulihin talaga (Arrest the person). A little shame or put them on notice forever,” he said.
“Sino ba naman ang gustong mahuli ka? But if you are brought to the police station and detained there, that will give you a lesson for all time,” the President added.
Duterte also appealed to local government officials to take more effort in punishing residents for disregarding simple health protocols such as wearing masks and observing physical distancing, which can count as a serious crime.
“Under ordinary times, a simple violation of not wearing masks seem to be trivial, social distancing, all of these things. But during times of health issues, you can [make arrests] because it can be a serious crime,” he said.
“The mayors have to do more. They have to do more,” Duterte added.
The President, who once advocated for federalism in his campaign, noted that having a unitary form of government makes it easier to impose rules that can be followed by mayors and local executives.
He also reiterated that local officials who would go against the national government’s standard of implementation may either be suspended or terminated from their posts.
COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez said on Monday that people are more likely to follow quarantine protocols with police and military around in local communities. However, he clarified that there will not be any show of force to intimidate residents.
This comes amid recent criticisms on police and military presence in the controversial house-to-house search for COVID-19 patients which closely resembles the government’s Oplan Tokhang to locate drug users.
As of Monday, the Philippines has logged 68,898 COVID-19 cases. A total of 23,072 individuals have already recovered, while 1,835 succumbed to the disease.