THE commander of the Join Task Force COVID Shield yesterday called on all local government units to pass an ordinance that would mandate the wearing of face masks of their constituents every time they go out of their residences as part of their role to fight the spread of the deadly virus.
Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, also the Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Operations, said such ordinance would empower local police forces to go after hard-headed people who continue to leave their homes unprotected from COVID-19 though even they have no valid reason for their action.
Eleazar said PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa fully supports the mandatory wearing of face masks and also expressed support for the enforcement by the local police of the ordinance in the event they are passed by LGUs.
PNP agents across the country are fully enforcing ordinances such as the curfew hours and the ban on drinking and smoking in public as well as the motorcycle helmet law and most recently, the directive banning riding-in tandem in motorcycles as part of the government’s social distancing measure.
“We appeal to the LGUs to immediately pass an ordinance in their respective areas so that we will have the basis to arrest those people who go out without wearing face masks,” said Lt. Gen. Eleazar.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles had said that the wearing of face masks will be mandatory for Luzon residents where the Enhanced Community Quarantine is strictly being implemented.
Sec. Nograles said the wearing of face masks is needed to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Despite the announcement, reports revealed that a lot of people in Luzon continue to go out in public places to buy food and other essential items without face masks, said the Task Force COVID Shield commander.
“Humihingi din po kami ng kooperasyon sa mga barangay official, sa ating mga barangay tanod sa pagpapatupad nito,” he said.
Eleazar explained that once LGUs pass their respective ordinances on the mandatory wearing of face masks, police will not hesitate to arrest and penalize those who would violate it just like what they have been doing in the case of curfew violators.
Based on the latest JTF COVID Shield data, more than 102,000 violators of the ECQ have been apprehended and counting.
As of last Friday, there were already a total of 60,040 ECQ violators apprehended in Luzon followed by 18,514 in Visayas and 23,420 in Mindanao.
The biggest number of violators who were apprehended and were either given a warning, fined or charged in court came from Metro Manila where the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas is enforcing a very strict ECQ.