MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte issued a stern warning to barangay chairpersons for allowing mass gatherings within their jurisdictions.
The announcement came after another "super-spreader" pool party was reported in Quezon City, in which 54 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Hindi naman talaga krimen na may ginawa kayo but most of you are committing a crime kasi alam ninyo na after a gathering, after swimming together, a lot you will get positive na for COVID-19," Duterte said in his weekly public address.
(What you did is really not a crime but most of you are committing a crime because you know that after a gathering, after swimming together, a lot you will get positive for COVID-19.)
"Binabalewala ninyo ang pakiusap ng gobyerno (you are ignoring government pleas), and it's criminal for you to get the COVID and pass it on to another innocent person. It is really a crime.
"Ipakulong ko kayo. I will look for a suitable law because you are now forcing my hand to get into this thing and control it. Ayaw ninyo magpasaway eh. Iyan ang problema ko.
(I will put you in jail. I will look for a suitable law because you are now forcing my hand to get into this thing and control it. You don't want to stop. That's my problem.)
"Kung ganoon ang ginagawa ninyo, walang katapusan na itong p*t*ng*n*ng ito."
(If you continue doing that, then this son of a b*tch will not end.)
The chief executive also issued a stern warning to barangay officials who allow such gatherings to happen within their jurisdiction.
"Kayong mga barangay captain, do you know that you have committed a crime of dereliction of duty? Tingnan ninyo sa Revised Penal Code, magkonsulta kayo ng abogado. Talagang ang unang ipakulong ko 'yung barangay captain, having committed the crime of dereliction of duty under the Revised Penal Code," Duterte said.
(To the barangay captains, do you know that you have committed a crime of dereliction of duty? Look it up in the Revised Penal Code, consult a lawyer. You will be the first to be put in jail, the barangay captain, for having committed the crime of dereliction of duty under the Revised Penal Code.)
Duterte then ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to arrest a barangay chairperson first if something similar happens again.
"Beginning (Wednesday night), 'pag may isa pa, ang unang hulihin ang barangay captain. I am ordering the police to arrest the barangay captain and bring him to the station, investigate him for dereliction of duty, having failed to enforce the law," he said.
(Beginning tonight, it this happens again, arrest the barangay captain first. I am ordering the police to arrest the barangay captain and bring him to the station, investigate him for dereliction of duty, having failed to enforce the law.)
"'Pag naulit pa ito, ang unang hulihin ang barangay captain. Kasi 'pag nangyari ito, ibig sabihin you gave the permission. That is the presumption. Kung hindi ka nagbigay ng permiso, hindi mangyayari 'yan."
(If this happens again, arrest the barangay captain first. Because if this happens, it means they have the permission. That is the presumption. If you did not give the permission, this will not happen.)
Prior to the Quezon City pool party, a resort in Caloocan City was permanently shut down on May 10 after authorities discovered on May 9 that the resort was operating despite prevailing quarantine restrictions at the time.
As of May 25, a total of 20 Gubat sa Ciudad guests have so far tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Caloocan COVID-19 Command Center.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said village chiefs will be given the opportunity to take action against superspreader events.
"Pag nagaganap na ang superspreader event at walang ginawa ang kapitan kasabay ng pagpunta ng authorities sa lugar na yun, isama mo na rin si kapitan sa pagaresto dahil di niya ginawa ang kaniyang trabaho," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(If the superspreader event is happening and the barangay captain did not do anything, he will also be apprehended because he did not do his job.)
Barangay chairpersons should coordinate with the local government and local police for faster response to superspreader events, Año said. They could face charges and removal from their posts if they fail to do their mandate, he added.
"Pagka merong tinatawag na criminal offense kasabay n'yan ang administrative case. Dito pwede natin i-apply ang preventive suspension," he said.
(An administrative case accompanies the criminal offense, we can apply preventive suspension here.)
"Kaya di pupuwede sabihin 'Di ko alam malaki ang area ko.' Umalis ka d'yan sa puwesto mo. Hahanap tayo ng barangay captain na kayang gawin ang trabaho sa ganitong pandemic na panahon."
(That's why you can't say my area is too big. Quit your post. We'll look for a barangay captain who can do the job during this pandemic.)