Quarantine violators may be jailed up to 30 days, fined ₱5,000 under proposed rules

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) – New rules being proposed to local government units could mean a month-long jail time for people caught without masks or violating social distancing rules in public, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.

He revealed details about the proposed uniform rules for quarantine violations which may be adopted by local government units during the third Pre-SONA Forum for Cabinet officials on Wednesday.

"Out of the result of our dialogue with local chief executives... magkakaroon na lang kami ng uniform implementation kung paano ipatutupad ang health standards and protocols, and number of days i-imprison kapag nag-violate ka [we will have a uniform implementation of the health standards and protocols and the number of days imprisonment when you violate these]," Año said during the media briefing.

He said the proposal will send a person caught not wearing a face mask or disregarding social distancing when in public to jail for 10 to 30 days, or will slap a fine worth ₱1,000–₱5,000.

RELATED: Duterte wants quarantine violators detained 'to learn their lesson'

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque previously mentioned the proposed uniform ordinance but did not share details, saying the measure must first be adopted and passed by respective municipal and city councils or provincial boards to take effect.

"With this also, we would like to really implement 'yung mga standards na ito. If we can do that, actually we will prevent further spread of this COVID virus," Año added.

There are 70,764 confirmed cases in the country as of Tuesday, with 45,646 considered as active patients. Some 23,281 people recovered while 1,837 died. More than a thousand new cases are reported each day for the past week.

Año said authorities did expect the number of infections to rise after authorities relaxed stay-at-home restrictions, as they now seek to reopen the economy. However, the official said it's still too early to say how this will affect the quarantine classifications for August.

RELATED: CHR raises alarm over arrests during COVID-19 quarantine

The Cabinet official added that authorities apprehended close to 200,000 violators since the lockdowns started, but said 112,826 of them were only given a warning and sent home. He added that 34,134 people were fined while 64,814 were arrested for staying out during curfew hours. Those under custody are being processed through online inquest proceedings, a compromise to also decongest local jails.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra denied criticisms that the government is biased against the poor in terms of arrests, saying they apply the law "as uniformly as possible."

"I wouldn't really say that there is inconsistent application of the rule of law, but it just so happened that a greater number of those arrested came from the lower income groups. That's simply because they are the ones who are caught in the streets," Guevarra said, pointing out that those with money or are in power are also being probed, alluding to the "celebrated" case of Senator Koko Pimentel and Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas.

"It doesn't mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law," he added.

READ: UN sounds alarm on PH's 'highly militarized' lockdown response

Guevarra said Pimentel and Sinas are both under investigation for their supposed lapses.