THE Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 has no objection to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s plan to abolish the fine for those caught violating minimum health standards for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) like not wearing a face mask or a face shield.
Garcia also ordered Col. Engelbert Soriano, the new Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) director, to let off violators with just a warning and a reminder to adhere to health protocols.
She said violators shouldn’t have to be charged in court let alone be made to pay a penalty if they venture outside without a face mask.
“They can be reminded to wear a mask, admonished to wear a mask, but never should they be mistreated,” the governor said.
PRO 7 Director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said he already ordered police chiefs in the towns who encounter people who are not wearing masks to remind them to wear one at all times while outdoors.
The police official said he also plans to distribute face masks to people who cannot afford to buy one, adding that his office and police stations have plenty of supply.
“We’ll give them face masks. If we have extra face shields, we’ll also give them those,” he said in Cebuano.
Montejo also ordered police personnel to be courteous when dealing with the public. If they have to point out to someone to wear their face mask properly, then they must do so nicely.
Montejo said people should not let their guard down and should continue to adhere to minimum health standards set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Chronic violators of IATF guidelines, though, will be punished, he said.
Meanwhile, Soriano said he is ready to comply with the governor’s orders, one of which is to avoid what happened in Cavite where a resident who was ordered to do push-ups after he was caught without a face mask ended up dying.
Soriano said he understands Garcia’s concerns since he has seen with his own eyes many people suffering as a result of the ongoing health crisis.
“The governor issued a stern warning that what happened in Cavite must never happen here in Cebu Province. She had other instructions but reading between the lines we have to uplift the lives of the poor who have been severely affected by the pandemic,” he said in a mix of Tagalog and English. (AYB / PJB)