Press Release
May 10, 2021

Cops should heed Eleazar's no-jail order

Any rush to arrest mandatory mask violators without setting up the "holding and booking" infrastructure would worsen jail congestion and the clogging of court dockets, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

Recto said violators will be first brought to holding cells in police precincts, "but then these are already full."

Violators remanded to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facilities will also find "standing room only" conditions awaiting them.

And with many prosecution offices and courts conducting some of their work online, the procedure violators will undergo will face delays, Recto warned.

He said if the arrest is made to protect the health of the community and the individual, "then the purpose is defeated if violators are thrown into a jail where physical distancing is impossible."

"Where's the logic in catching someone for improperly wearing a mask when he would later catch the virus from his maskless cellmates?" Recto said.

Recto also cited the cost to the treasury of arresting, holding, booking, charging and detaining "someone who may have placed his mask on his chin."

"We may find ourselves in a situation where we will be spending thousands of pesos for a person who has forgotten to put on a 10-peso mask," he said.

He said existing rules on mask wearing should be the subject of a massive information and education campaign.

"And among the priority audience should be the policemen and those tasked to implement the rule, like barangay tanods. With clear rules, not only confusion is avoided but abuse as well," he said

"Tama ang tagubilin ni General Eleazar: Walang maltrato, walang abuso. Tama din ang utos niya na huwag ikulong at dalhin na lang kung saan pwede silang pagmultahin base sa lokal na ordinansa," Recto said.

"Siguro kung naibaba lang ang mask sa baba, sitahin na lang. Doon sa mga pasaway, a fine or community service will do," he said.

"Ticketan na lang then let the offender go with the warning that the fine must be settled soon. Huwag din masyadong mataas ang fine. A high fine is a form of abuse," Recto said.

"A good PR move by the PNP is to give patrolling officers masks for distribution," he added.

With 182,556 inmates, BJMP has a congestion rate of 434 percent, one of the world's highest.

The state cost of just feeding one BJMP inmate is P25,550 a year. On top of this is a medicine allotment of P5,475 per inmate a year.

Prosecutors and public defenders who handle cases of inmates are facing case overload too, Recto said.

"One state prosecutor handles about 403 criminal cases," he said.

A Public Attorney Office (PAO) lawyer, on the other hand, attends to 5,237 clients a year, and, at any given time, has 504 cases in court.

News Latest News Feed