President Rodrigo Duterte said those who refuse to wear face masks outside their homes could be arrested, as he directed authorities to be "more strict" in enforcing COVID-19 health requirements to stop rising infections. He wore a white face mask as he gave instructions to the Cabinet during his weekly address to the nation aired Tuesday.
As it is, Filipinos are among the most obedient in the world when it comes to wearing face protection, according to a New York Times study. Still, the President said passing on disease to someone during a pandemic, simply because a mask was not worn, could be considered a "serious crime."
"We'll have to ask our police to be more strict, hulihin talaga. A little shame would put them on notice forever. Sino ba naman gusto mahuli ka? But if you are brought to the police station and detained there, that would give you a lesson for all time," he said.
"But if you are brought to the police station and detained there that would give you a lesson for all time," he said.
On Monday, Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government was aiming for 100-percent mask-wearing compliance. Infections continue to rise as quarantines loosen further. Confirmed COVID-19 cases were at 68,898 as of the latest count, including 1,835 deaths and 23,072 recoveries.
Aside from wearing face masks, Duterte appealed to the public to continue observing physical distancing. If there's one thing Filipinos can learn from virus containment measures around the world, mask-wearing and physical distancing are constants.
"You want COVID to slow down or stop? Wear a mask or do not go out of your house if you don't want to wear one, saka social distancing (also, social distancing). There is no other way to prevent," he said.