Fed up by reports of mass gatherings amid government efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte warned barangay captains anew saying they may face arrest if they fail to prevent public gatherings that could be considered “super spreaders.”
Failing to enforce the law, particularly community quarantine restrictions, is considered dereliction of duty and punishable under the Revised Penal Code, President Duterte said Wednesday night in a meeting on government’s COVID-19 interventions.
“Talagang ang unang ipakulong ko ‘yong barangay captain having committed a crime of dereliction of duty under the Revised Penal Code,” he said. “Kasi magpa-barangay captain kayo, persons in authority tapos wala kayong gawin, hindi kayo tumulong sa national government, you are not doing anything, then I will order your arrest.”
“Iyong barangay captain, if you are really worth your status there, kung ayaw ninyo, umalis kayo… I’m ordering the police to arrest the barangay captain and bring him to the station, investigate him for being a derelict, of dereliction of duty having failed to enforce the law,” he added.
Duterte said barangay captains must personally see to it that large gatherings such as fiestas, cockfighting, and other public events remain strictly prohibited in their jurisdictions.
Multiple infections can result from a single public gathering, the President said, underscoring the dangers posed by social events on public health.
“Pasaway eh. Iyan ang problema. Much as we would like to reduce the COVID cases, eh kung ganoon ang ginagawa ninyo, walang katapusan na ito kasi lahat kayo naghahawaan na naman and you know the danger of congregating or getting together so close to each other, nagsasayawan pa, nagpipiyesta pa,” he said. “‘Di ba sinabi na sa inyo na delikado ‘yan?”
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who was also present during the meeting, said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for its part, will release a memo circular indicating barangay captains’ additional responsibilities in enforcing minimum public health standards to mitigate coronavirus infections.
Año said the memo circular will mandate barangay captains to form their own barangay COVID-19 operation center as well as a barangay tanod health patrol that would conduct regular health patrols in their barangays including public places especially on weekends and public holidays.
The memo also mandates barangay captains to ensure that the public refrain from congregating in social activities. These include drinking of alcoholic beverages, cockfighting, fiestas, parades, processions, and other public events, said Año.
Meanwhile, President Duterte admonished local government units (LGUs) which reportedly expressed preferences for COVID-19 vaccine particularly for US brand Pfizer, noting that being selective is not feasible in light of the global supply shortage.
According to the President, equality must be followed in the country’s vaccine distribution. Allowing some localities to administer a single brand of vaccine to their constituents would agitate other LGUs and make similar demand, he explained.
“I cannot administer exclusive Pfizer sa isang lugar to the exclusion of other Filipinos. Kaya hindi puwede ho ‘yang ano — eh kailangan talaga i-mix ‘yan at saka ‘yong blind ang tao sa anong binibigay. Basta may bakuna,” he said.
Pfizer is just one brand among many that the Philippines is procuring from COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, the President said, noting vaccine brands do not vary in efficacy.
“Vaccine is vaccine, walang pilian ‘yan. And the best bakuna is really the one that’s available for you,” he said.
The Philippines is presently negotiating for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines from World Health Organization-led COVAX facility and pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Research Institute, Novavax, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson, among others.
Last week, the Philippines’s aggressive vaccination efforts put it at 36th place out of 196 countries with average daily vaccination rate, and ranked 4th among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries. PND