Duterte orders LGUs to 'stand down,’ follow lockdown guidelines

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2020 03:15 AM | Updated as of Mar 20 2020 01:43 PM

LGUs told: Withdraw directives inconsistent with national policy

MANILA (UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local government executives to abide by the enhanced community quarantine guidelines set by the national government in Luzon on early Friday morning after reports of inconsistent policies implemented in different communities reached the Palace.

Duterte, in a pre-dawn video message, reminded local government officials that they are part of one republic and should thus follow the rules set by national government’s inter-agency task force (IATF) leading the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am ordering all LGUs that are doing this to stand down and abide by the directives of the IATF, not mine, but the task force," he said.

“The national government needs your help in this time. But I have to tell you, do not make this quarantine more difficult for our people than it already is…There is only one republic here, the Republic of the Philippines, and therefore you should abide by the directives of the national government," he said.

Duterte said that although he understands the mandate of the local government officials, they still have to follow the national government because the country is under a state of public health emergency.

"I know you have the mandate to deal with the emergencies affecting your localities. I was a mayor myself in case you have forgotten but this is an emergency of national proportions and therefore it is the national government that should call the shots," he said.

The President also directed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to monitor the compliance of each local government unit.

"I am therefore directing the DILG and the DOJ to closely monitor the compliance of LGUs in the directives of the office and to file the necessary cases against the wayward officials," the chief executive said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier reminded local officials that they could face administrative and criminal charges should they go against the directives set by the national government.

Duterte placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine Tuesday to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Under the enhanced community quarantine, all forms of travel to and from Luzon were restricted except for those with official business, including those transporting basic goods and necessities, patrol of military and police personnel, commuting medical staff, and delivery of public health and humanitarian services.

Private companies were urged to adopt “work from home” arrangements in the meantime. The operations of all mass public transport facilities are also suspended.

NO BLAME GAME

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Friday refused to name local government units that were allegedly implementing quarantine guidelines that go against the national government’s policy.

He instead urged mayors to coordinate problems faced by their respective localities to the DILG so that the national government can help address issues in the implementation of the community quarantine.

“The President has emphatically ordered all LGUs issuing directives inconsistent with the IATF guidelines to withdraw these immediately and abide by the directives of the IATF and those issued by the Office of the President,” Nograles said during a televised briefing.

“Malinaw po ang punto ni Pangulong Duterte: ang mga sinasabi ng IATF na manatiling sarado, dapat sarado; ang mga sinasabing manatiling bukas, dapat bukas,” he said.

(The President is clear: Those that should remain closed, should be closed while those that should remain open, should be open.)

The Philippines, as of Thursday, has 217 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 17 fatalities, while 8 patients have recovered.