MANILA - Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III on Saturday warned that the national government could sanction local officials who would block the arrival of Filipinos from virus-hit China bound for quarantine at the Athletes' Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
"Mayroon po silang kalalagyan niyan, 'yung mga opisyales na haharang sa kautusan ng ating pangulo may kaakibat po 'yan na administrative, baka may criminal side pa ‘yan pagka kanilang hinarang," Densing said in an interview on radio dzMM.
(Officials who will block the President's order can face administrative or criminal sanctions.)
Speaking on the eve of the arrival of repatriates from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, Densing said the matter is of national concern.
"It's an order by the president. It was approved by the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council)...wala hong magagawa ang lokal sa pagpunta o pagka-quarantine nating d'yan by tomorrow (they can't do anything with the arrival of those to be quarantined by tomorrow)," Densing said.
But Densing said he would still reach out to the acting mayor of Capas town to assure him that there is nothing to fear about the arrival of the repatriates.
"Importante na makausap natin itong local official in respect to their opinion," Densing said.
(It’s important to reach out to this local official in respect to their opinion.)
On Friday, the Municipal Council of Capas passed a resolution against turning the Athletes' Village into a quarantine zone.
"Nirerespeto namin pero pinag-usapan na po 'yan, pinag-aralan, pinag-debatehan ng national government agencies po 'yan at napag-desisyunan na doon muna ilalagay ang mga kababayan na uuwi bukas galing Tsina," he said.
(We respect (the resolution) but that was already discussed, studied, and debated by national government agencies and the decision is to place our compatriots arriving from China there.)
He said there is nothing to fear as safety and medical protocols are in place. He also stressed that the quarantine site is far from the Capas town proper.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said Filipino migrants from Wuhan who are not showing symptoms of the new coronavirus will be given "nice rooms and full meals" at the New Clark City, which was earlier used for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Those exhibiting symptoms of the virus will be admitted as patients under investigation or PUIs at identify-ready hospitals, said Duque.
"'Yung mga dadalhin sa quarantine area wala po silang sakit. Wala silang coronavirus. Oobserbahan lang sila for 14 days. Sana po maintindihan nila ang sitwasyon," said Densing.
(Those who will be quarantined are not sick. They do not have the coronavirus. They need to be observed for 14-days. I hope they understand the situation.)
He appealed to the public to unite and help each other in the face of this health crisis.