THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has finished drafting the guidelines on arresting those caught violating face mask rules and will be coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for implementation.

“The DoJ is ready with its guidelines. We’ll just have to coordinate with the DILG in the next couple of days,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters on Monday.

He added that the guidelines will “hopefully” be implemented within the week, although arrests are already being undertaken by the police.    

The Justice chief explained that existing laws and ordinances of local governments “define the prohibited acts and impose the corresponding penalties therefore, and the relevant rules of court govern the procedure.”

The guidelines, he said, will only add “to the procedure on arrest and detention until the filing of charges, if warranted,” such as “determining the manner, time, or place of booking, detention, and investigation” to avoid overcrowding and to further prevent the spread of the virus.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte tasked the two departments last May 5 to draft the guidelines after ordering the police to arrest those who are not wearing a face mask or doing it improperly.

“The president’s directive is part of the government’s strategy of strictly implementing health protocols, such as wearing of face masks, so that the spread of the disease is put under control and the full opening of the economy is accelerated,” Mr. Guevarra told reporters a day after Mr. Duterte’s instructions.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry announced Monday that it has turned over 50,000 face masks to the police for distribution to detained violators.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, in a statement, said the washable face masks come from the Libreng Mask para sa Masa project. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago