"We need not overemphasize its importance."
We welcome President Duterte’s order to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government authorities to arrest violators of the law provision on wearing facemask in public places.
The challenge to strictly enforce the health and safety standards set by the Presidential Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) came in the wake of the assumption of command of the PNP by P/General Guillermo Eleazar.
The order shows the President’s optimism in the success of the government's efforts to control the continued increase of COVID-19 incidence to alarming levels, prompting him to place Metro Manila and four nearby provinces under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) beginning Holy Week in late March.
We need not overemphasize the importance of face masks and the proper way of wearing them as one of the key factors in reducing the incidence of social transmission of COVID-19 and the emerging SARS-2 variants.
Aside from COVID vaccine, doctors and medical experts worldwide, including the World Health Organization (WHO), agree that the most basic defense to COVID-19 is wearing the face mask properly.
Eleazar vowed to implement the law provisions on health and safety protocol, particularly in the National Capital Region and other provinces remaining under MECQ called the NCR-Plus, the epicenter of COVID-19 recent resurgence.
We need to keep the momentum of lowering the rate of increase gained in the past weeks.
Malacańang hopes to place the NCR-Plus areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) after the MECQ ends on May 14 if the COVID-19 reproduction rate (R-Naught) and the hospitals’ critical care capacity stay at low levels.
The President is confident Eleazar will not fail in leading the 221,000-strong national police force in enforcing the community quarantine rules under the “We Heal As One,” the much-maligned government response to the pandemic crisis.
The new PNP Chief, however, assured the people that implementing Duterte’s order will not translate to police abuses.
He warned policemen against violation of human rights, such as forcing face mask rule violators to do physical exercise as only the judicial courts and the local government units (LGUs) may impose such penalties and fines.
There are those individuals who may not physically tolerate or withstand strenuous physical punishment.
The Commission on Human rights (CHR) called on the PNP to respect human rights in following the President’s order against face mask rule and other health protocols violators.
Eleazar’s unblemished record includes his outstanding performance as former head of the Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield.
I am confident as well that under Eleazar’s able leadership, the PNP will fulfill its mandate to serve and protect.
“Our job is clearly to strictly and lawfully enforce the community quarantine rules designed to protect the public against the continued spread of the deadly virus,” General Eleazar told me.
The PNP Chief also paid homage to the fallen PNP frontliners whom he described as unsung heroes.
At least 58 policemen have died of COVID-19 acquired in the line of duty.