MANILA (UPDATE) - Twenty-nine village chiefs in Metro Manila were ordered by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to show cause for supposedly failing to implement quarantine protocols imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a government official said Wednesday.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told radio DZMM that the village officials were allegedly lax in their duties to prevent mass gatherings.
"Hindi po nila allegedly napigil 'yong mass gatherings sa kanilang lugar. Naging pabaya sila. Hindi nila in-enforce iyong social distancing..." he said.
(They allegedly failed to stop mass gatherings in their jurisdictions. They were lax in their duties. They did not enforce social distancing.)
In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said village chiefs were legally liable in implementing the lockdown as mandated by Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which orders localities to cooperate in the enforcement of the national policy against the COVID-19 crisis.
“Dumating na tayo sa ganitong punto sapagkat hindi maayos na binabantayan ng ilang punong barangay ang kanilang nasasakupan," he said.
"Hindi puwedeng maging kampante sa COVID-19 lalo’t ‘di pa alam ang lunas nito."
(We've reached this point because some village chiefs were remiss in their duties. We could not be complacent especially since there is no cure against COVID-19 yet.)
The barangays issued with a show cause order are Barangay 11, 12, 20, 154, 220, 350, and 212 in Manila; Barangay Bagong Silangan, 178, 12, 176, 37, and 129 in Caloocan; Barangay Pasong Putik, Pasong Tamo, San Bartolome, Batasan Hills, Payatas, Fairview, Novaliches Proper, and San Antonio in Quezon City; Barangay Don Bosco, Moonwalk, and Marcela Green in Parañaque; Barangay Pio Del Pilar and Bangkal in Makati; Barangay Almanza 2 in Las Piñas; Barangay Tonsuya in Malabon; and Barangay Alabang in Muntinlupa.
The DILG stressed that barangays play a critical role in the battle against the disease.
The Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) are tasked to monitor and report suspect and probable COVID-19 cases, the agency added.
The DILG said BHERTs should also assist the Contact Tracing Teams (CTTs) of local government units (LGUs) in locating all people with known exposure to COVID-19 patients.
The officials may face administrative and criminal charges, Malaya said.
The Philippine main island of Luzon, home to half of the country's more than 100 million people, was placed on enhanced community quarantine since March 17 to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao also undertook such draconian measure that not only prohibits mass gatherings but also suspended public transportation and closed borders of a number of localities.
To date, the Philippines has logged 6,710 cases of the disease, of whom 446 died while 693 recovered.