File photo of president Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, May 26, warned that arrest of protocol violators is now “mandatory” as they continue to defy the strict quarantine and health rules amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Duterte made the pronouncement in his taped public address after Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año’s report about three “super spreader” events that contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Año, in a meeting held at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Wednesday night, told Duterte that two people who were seen swimming at the Ciudad sa Gubat resort in Valenzuela on May 9 tested positive for COVID-19, while 54 others got infected with coronavirus after attending a pool party in Nagkaisang Nayon village in Quezon City from May 9 to 11.

He added that the government is now tracing people who went on a picnic in Norzagaray, Bulacan on May 23.

Duterte lamented that many Filipinos continue to be “stubborn” and do not mind catching the coronavirus and infecting others.

“Huwag niyo akong pilitin na talagang pahirapan ko kayo (Do not force me to put you in a difficult situation),” he said. “Kapag nagpositive ka, dadamputin ka talaga, bantay kayo (If you tested positive for Covid-19, you will really be arrested. Watch out). And I make it mandatory.”

‘Crime’ to infect ‘innocent’
On May 17, Duterte warned that he might be forced to reimpose “stricter” quarantine measures, in the event that Filipinos continue to disregard the protocols.

Duterte’s latest warning came, as he said it is a “crime” for a COVID-19 carrier to infect “innocent” Filipinos.

“And it’s criminal for you to get the Covid and pass it on to another innocent person. It is really a crime. Maghanap ako ngayon ng batas kung paano kayo ipahuli ng pulis at idetain for committing crimes (I will really review the law to see how police can arrest and detain you for committing crimes),” he said.

Duterte was saddened that many are still ignoring the government’s repeated calls to follow minimum public health standards.

“Most of you are committing a crime kasi alam niyo na (because you know that) after gathering, after swimming together, a lot of you get positive for Covid-19. Parang binabalewala niyo ang pakiusap ng gobyerno (You are defying the government’s appeal),” he said.

Local execs’ responsibility
Duterte also reminded the local officials to ensure the strict implementation of quarantine and health protocols amid the pandemic.

He warned that they could also face arrest for “dereliction of duty,” in case their constituents continue to ignore the anti-coronavirus measures.

“It will be the job of the municipal mayors, city mayors and the barangay captains,” he said. “I am not requesting for help. I am telling you that it is your duty to prevent this kind of events happening in your jurisdiction.”

Know the danger
Duterte said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would be far from over if Filipinos brush aside the “danger of congregating.”

“Much as we would like to reduce Covid cases, eh kung ganoon ang ginagawa ninyo, walang katapusan na itong p** i* ito kasi lahat kayo magkahawaan na naman (if you are doing that, this son of a b**** will not end because you will end up infecting each other),” Duterte said.

He said the funds for pandemic response efforts would run out, should they continue to flout protocols.

“Wala tayong pera forever na magsabi sa inyo na sige mag-Covid kayong lahat (We do not have the money forever to say that it is fine for all of you to catch Covid),” Duterte said.

As of Wednesday, the country has 46,037 active COVID-19 cases, 1,127,770 recoveries, and 20,169 deaths. (PNA)

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