President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, April 28, warned local government officials, particularly mayors and barangay captains, that he will hold them responsible for violations of health guidelines in their jurisdictions causing spikes in COVID-19 infections.
President Duterte made the warning after hearing reports of mass gathering during a religious event in Malolos, Bulacan, noting several minimum health protocols were violated.
“Under the police power of the state, ang mayor, ang barangay captain because they are persons of authority, they are the ones who should be responsible for the enforcement of the law,” President Duterte said during his weekly public address on COVID-19 interventions.
“Ang guidance binibigay lang sa police because the supervision belongs to the mayor. Ang barangay captain is also a person in authority like a teacher is a person in authority.”
Local officials such as mayors and barangay captains could be penalized under the law for not enforcing the health protocols during the pandemic, according to the President.
“So ang gawin ko ganito, I will hold responsible under the law, may batas eh, maraming batas — there are about five provisions in a different statutes na ang barangay captain siya ‘yong mag-enforce sa law,” he said.
“At kung hindi, ‘yong mayor or concurrently the mayor and the barangay captain are responsible for the enforcement of the law, especially if it is a penal law, ‘yong may corresponding, well, preso o ano.”
The President said he would direct Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to hold the mayors responsible whenever there are violations in government health guidelines in their jurisdictions.
Not enforcing the law constitutes dereliction of duty and local officials will be punished under the Revised Penal Code, he said.
Not knowing what is happening in their areas is not an excuse, the President said, noting the DILG could charge them administratively and criminally.
“‘Pag may nangyari pang pistahan o sayawan diyan, ang tawagin ng DILG ang mayor pati ang barangay captain, and then he will proceed to enforce the law,” he said.
“Since he is my alter ego dito nga sa sinabi ko DILG nandito eh, it’s a civilian department, and he can exercise that power. So siya na.”
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced approved guidelines for community pantries in the country. Secretary Año enumerated the “standards” to be followed by organizers in initiating a community pantry:
· Basic health protocols or minimum health standards should be followed and observed;
· No illegal and harmful items, including alcoholic beverages and cigarettes;
· Both the local government unit and the community pantry organizer could not ask for any kind of fee;
· No permit needed but must coordinate thoroughly with the local government unit to ensure compliance with law and ordinances;
· Coordination with the local government unit is vital for the following reasons:
· The LGU will decide on the venue of the community pantry and to ensure the venue is in the area of those who are really in need;
· The LGU will provide a link between organizers and local producers for the supply needed for the community pantry;
· The LGU will enforce security and maintain peace and order through the PNP, barangay tanod, barangay officials, and volunteers;
· The LGU will provide a system that will help reach the community pantry to senior citizens and persons with comorbidities that cannot leave their homes.
Año noted that one of the visions for the community pantry is to ensure that it is localized, and only the constituents of a certain barangay could join to prevent mass gatherings.
“Katulad po noong naganap dito sa Barangay Holy Spirit na in-announce ito sa Facebook kung saan nagdagsaan ang maraming tao at halos sobra pa sa sampung libo ang dumating na mga tao at hindi na na-control at hindi na naipatupad ang minimum health standard,” he said.
The DILG will not allow political personalities to politicize community pantries by displaying banners containing their names, Año said, adding everybody’s rights should be respected in organizing community pantries. PND