LOCAL government units are now required to set up holding areas for arrested violators of health protocols, based on the new guidelines jointly released by three agencies.

The guidelines, mainly a compilation of existing rules on pandemic-related arrests, was released Tuesday night by the Department of Justice (DoJ), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The local government-designated holding area is intended to separate health and safety standard violators from jail detainees to avoid overcrowding and the possible transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said in a press conference Tuesday.

For the DoJ clause in the guidelines, prosecutors are allowed to conduct inquest proceedings physically or online, and must finish inquests “on the same day of the endorsement of the case” to ensure that violators are not held up for an extended period.

If additional evidence is needed, prosecutors are instructed to first release the detainee pending further investigation.

The DILG reported 125,587 violators of minimum public health standards who were arrested from May 17 to 30.

Of the total, 95,357 were apprehended for improperly wearing face masks, 1,697 for mass gathering violations, and 28,533 were caught violating physical distancing rules. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago