In Ireland, not wearing a mask could mean imprisonment—not here in the Philippines

In Ireland, not wearing a mask could mean imprisonment—not here in the Philippines

By Tracy Cabrera

DUBLIN, IRELAND — In Ireland, a man had been sentenced to two months in prison for refusing to wear a face-covering on public transport—but not so in the Philippines.

If local authorities moved around to monitor public’s infringements of the prevailing minimum health safety protocols imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), they would soon realize that many Filipinos disregard the set standards that have been designed to protect everyone from Covid-19.

Andrew Heasman of Carrowmore, Knock in County Mayo was sentenced last Thursday, December 17, for refusing to wear a face mask on a Bus Eireann coach traveling from Dublin to Knock on July 14 the current year.

The Castlebar District Court heard that Heasman ignored the bus driver, who repeatedly asked him to wear a mask properly.

Similar instances are actually happening aboard the Light Rail Transit systems and the Metro Rail Transit line traversing Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue from Pasay Rotunda in Pasay City to North Avenue in Quezon City, where passengers, mostly women, continue to take off their face shield and even pull down their face masks in total disregard of the health safety rules.

In Heasman’s case, Irish National Police Service garda, or guard, Thomas Bowens told the court that the Irishman refused to cover his mouth and nose with a mask and that he was wearing his mask “like a hat.”

Bowens added that Heasman’s refusal to wear a mask caused a number of passengers to get off the bus.
Bowens narrated to the court that he entered the bus on Main Street, Ballyhaunis and informed Heasman that he was committing an offense under the Health Act 1947. He also told the court that Heasman claimed that he did not have to wear a mask for health reasons.

However, when asked to present evidence of these health reasons, Heasman refused, stating that he was not required to give that information under data protection laws.

Heasman, meanwhile, told the court that he was traveling from Dublin to Knock in order to attend his uncle’s funeral. He claimed that the charges were ‘trumped-up’ against him.

Judge Fiona Lydon, who presided over the case, described Heasman’s actions as “totally inappropriate” considering there is an ongoing global health emergency.

Lydon sentenced Heasman to two months in prison for his offense, stating that she was satisfied with all the evidence supplied by the state.

Going back to Philippine scenario, authorities are actually in quandary over quarantine violations by Pinoys which could trigger a spike in Covid-19 infections, especially in the light of the holiday season. Health officials have enjoined the public to strictly follow the protocols but to no avail. (AI/MTVN)

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