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Philippines’ Duterte orders arrest of mask violators... after attending Covid-19 meeting without wearing a mask

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a directive calling on police to arrest people who refuse to wear masks properly after a meeting with his Covid-19 task force where he was the only person seen not wearing a mask.

Speaking after the coronavirus task force meeting, the Filipino politician declared: “My orders to the police are those who are not wearing their masks properly... arrest them and detain them, investigate why they are doing it.”

The directive will target people who fail to wear a mandatory face covering or wear it incorrectly, including below their nose.

However, Duterte’s statement that the new measures are “not for me” and “not for us” but “for the interest of the country” was clouded by a video that showed all the participants at the meeting wearing a mask, except Duterte.

It is not clear what punishment offenders will face for failing to wear a mask under the newly strictly enforced measures. Although, a spokesperson for Duterte, Harry Roque, stated that the directive would allow non-mask wearers to be held for 12 hours without charge. The country’s justice secretary and police chief have recommended that individuals who violate Covid-19 rules be forced to carry out community service.

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The move from Duterte’s administration comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases across the Philippines that has threatened to overrun the country’s healthcare system, sparked in part by individuals failing to follow restrictions, including mask mandates.

It is not the first time that the Philippines president has called for a strong response to individuals who violate Covid-19 rules. Duterte told authorities last year to shoot any individual who causes “trouble” during government-imposed lockdowns.

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