MANILA - The head of the country's Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB) on Thursday night expressed support for the President's order to arrest barangay chairpersons should super-spreader events happen within their jurisdiction, but appealed for due process.
In an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, LNB national president Eden Chua Pineda said while they support President Rodrigo Duterte's move, they should be given a chance to defend themselves.
"I-qualify po natin, kasi kung totoo naman na 'yung barangay chairman nandoon mismo sa activity na 'yon at hindi nago-observe ng protocol, ng IATF, then dapat lang po arestuhin ang barangay official na nandiyan kasi hindi po tayo matatapos ang problema natin, kung hindi tayo magko-cooperate," Pineda explained.
(Let us qualify it, most especially if there is truth that the barangay chairman is in that activity and not observing health protocols. They should be arrested because our problem with the pandemic won't stop.)
She proposed that residents should seek for barangay permits if ever they plan to conduct activities, so village officials would be able to monitor it.
Barangay chairpersons can only do as much, she added, which is why due process is needed.
"Kung malayo po masyado ang sinasakupan mo at wala ring alam ang barangay chairman, then he should be given due process kung arestuhin man siya, investigate and everything because we also need the police assistance," she said.
(If the event is far from the area within your jurisdiction, and the barangay chairman has no knowledge of it, they he should be given due process when he gets arrested.)
"There are certain occasion na sobrang layo po... (ng location) na di natin alam na may activity doon... so sometimes, unaware, dapat i-ano natin sa IATF na kapag ganyan, kumuha ng barangay permit para makapag-supervise."
(There are occasions that we are far from the location and we are unaware there are activities set there. We are suggesting to the IATF that barangay permits should be a policy)
In a taped message late Wednesday, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to arrest barangay chairpersons first if mass gatherings happen within their area, as the pandemic drags on.
Duterte explained that these local officials might be arrested based on provisions of dereliction of duty under the Revised Penal Code which, according to him, punish government officials who are not doing their jobs.
The announcement came after another "super-spreader" pool party was reported in Quezon City, in which 54 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
Mass gatherings have also recently been reported in Caloocan City, Quezon City, Bulacan and Zamboanga City despite restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Some government officials, meanwhile, are questioning the legal bases of the chief executive's new policy.
Because of this, the DOJ and the DILG are in the process of coming up with a joint memorandum circular or a set of guidelines with regard to violations of health protocols.