MANILA- Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada violated lockdown guidelines when he conducted an unauthorized relief drive in San Juan City without prior coordination with the city government, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Monday.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Estrada violated several rules of the enhanced community quarantine when he distributed free Bangus (milkfish) in San Juan on Sunday. The former lawmaker was brought to the police station for his actions.
"Naintindihan naman natin 'yung kagustuhan ni former senator Jinggoy na makatulong pero dapat ay ayon ito sa legal na pamamaraan at sa panuntunan ng ECQ guidelines," Año said in a virtual press briefing.
(We understand that former Sen. Jinggoy just wants to help but it should be in a legal way and in adherence to the ECQ guidelines.)
Estrada, a former mayor of San Juan, said police "singled him out" when they questioned his staff for violating physical distancing measures during the relief operations.
He also criticized San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora for trying to stop him from helping residents.
"Wala daw ako permit. Namimigay lang tayo ng bangus...Bakit ako hinihingan ng permit? Why single me out? It's plain harassment," he said.
(They said I didn't have a permit. I was just giving away free fish...Why should I ask for a permit? Why single me out? It's plain harassment.)
The DILG chief said Estrada could have coursed his donations to the Office of Civil Defense if he doesn't feel comfortable seeking a permit from the city government.
"Dapat nagcoordinate siya sa LGU. Kung kaaway niya 'yung LGU, andiyan naman yung OCD," Año said.
(He should have coordinated with the LGU or the OCD.)
REGULATION OF RELIEF DRIVES
Relief drives are regulated by the government to ensure that it would not be abused, Año said, noting that there are some people who do illegal activities in the guise of relief operations.
"Ang LGU kasi ang dapat namumuno diyan para alam nila sino ang nakatanggap, di nakatanggap, saan papasok 'yung LGU, para naman tulungan 'yung mga di nakatanggap," he said.
(The LGU is the one that should lead relief operations so they can monitor who has received aid, and can provide for those that did not receive any help.)
Aside from the lack of coordination with the city government, Año said people who were distributing fish also lacked quarantine passes, meaning they are not allowed to be in the streets.
Estrada, according to Zamora, has been violating quarantine measures for over a week, which had reached the national government's monitoring teams.
The San Juan mayor however assured Estrada that he would grant the latter a permit for relief operations if the former senator wrote him.
"Yes, definitely. If the former senator writes me a request, I will immediately grant it," Zamora said.