President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered police officials to arrest and detain people who would be seen not wearing their masks or wearing them improperly in public.

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Duterte said he made the order to “protect the public.”

“Itong mask, iyong iba ano lang for compliance lang. Naglalagay ng mask pero nakalabas ‘yong ilong. My orders to the police are those who are not wearing their masks properly in order to protect the public kasi kung hindi, hindi mo madepensahan ‘yong publiko,” he said.

“Arrest them and detain them, investigate them why they are doing it. You have nine hours,” he added.

Duterte said he had to be stern in implementing the mask-wearing policy so the public would not be complacent.

“I-detain mo tapos imbestigahin mo siya kung bakit ganoon ang behavior nila. Pagka hindi ko ganunin, hindi ko kayo higpitan, walang mangyayari. Iyan nga ‘yong for compliance lang kayo,” he said.

The president also defended himself for not wearing a face mask during his public addresses.

“Ako, tinatanggal ko kasi hindi pa, hindi — para akong hindi maintindihan. But itong kuwarto na ito ini-spray ito lahat. Pero there is no way [to] guarantee that I will not be a victim of Covid,” the 76-year-old said.

In April, the Commission on Human Rights decried the imposition of “excessive punishments and fines which are punitive in nature and disproportionate with the violation” and said they “represent an overreach of the enforcement of quarantine rules and regulations” after a curfew violator in Cavite died after being told to do 300 pushups. John Ezekiel J. Hirro