The Quezon City Council has reduced the penalty for those who will be caught not wearing face masks or face coverings in public places.

“Given the present economic situation, there is a need to decrease the penalties imposed because it is more viable for violators to comply with such,” according to Ordinance No. SP-2957, S-2020.

The Ordinance, introduced by Councilors Franz Pumaren and Diorella Maria G. Sotto-Antonio, amended the penalties in two previous measures approved by the City Council regarding the wearing of face masks in public places.

Penalties in the two previous Ordinances (SP-2908, S-2020) and (SP-2936, S-2020) were set at P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000, respectively.

Based on the latest Ordinance, the fines for not wearing face masks in public places have been lowered to P300, P500 and P1,000, for the first, second and third offenses, respectively. Violators could also face imprisonment of one month, at the discretion of the court.

However, the latest Ordinance requires the issuance of an Ordinance Violation Receipt (OVR) to violators so they won’t be brought to the Philippine National Police headquarters or to Amoranto Stadium for documentation.

Violators just need to pay the fine before the OVR lapses in five days. If they fail to pay within that span, a case will be filed before the City Prosecutors Office, which will reflect on their police record when they apply for a police clearance.

“Kung hindi makapagbayad ng multa ang mga lumalabag sa ordinansa, hindi na mabubura ang pangalan nila sa listahan ng violators, at makakaapekto ito sa kanila, kung halimbawa kailangan nila ng police clearance sa paghahanap ng trabaho,” said DPOS head retired General Elmo San Diego.

The Ordinance mandates the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure its enforcement. The Barangay Public Safety Officers (BPSO) may be deputized if DPOS and PNP personnel are not available.

Mayor Joy Belmonte strongly encourages the use of face masks in public places, saying it is the primary defense against the coronanavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“By wearing a mask, we not only protect ourselves from contracting the virus but our families, friends and communities,” said Belmonte.

The local government recently launched its “Why I Wear A Mask” campaign to highlight the importance of wearing a face mask in public places in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Various studies have shown that proper wearing of face mask can decrease virus transmission up to 70 percent.