5 local execs told to explain alleged Luzon lockdown violations - DILG

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2020 11:25 AM

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MANILA - The national government has asked at least 3 governors and 2 mayors to explain their supposed violations of the Luzon lockdown, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Thursday.

The local officials, who govern outside Metro Manila, have replied after being given 48 hours, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said.

"Our legal services are now assessing the replies of these governors and mayors to find out if there’s basis for us to proceed with the administrative cases against them," he told ANC.

"We will do this as fast as we can. This is a very sensitive matter because we wouldn’t want to affect the COVID-19 response of the provincial government so we’re taking it on a case-to-case basis. We’re weighing all the options available to us."

The DILG "has not issued more than 10" show-cause orders for supposed violations such as failure to implement the prohibition of mass gatherings, prohibiting the movement of goods, failure to implement strict physical distancing, failure to allow entry of overseas Filipino workers and essential personnel like health workers, Malaya said.

"We’re negotiating with them, hopefully we would see no need to file cases," he said.

"We don’t really consider local governments as our subordinates. We consider them as partners. Under the Local Government Code, they have autonomy. If they refuse to implement the law, then that’s where we come in. We want to be fair with them because they’re also our stakeholders."

The DILG would directly go after barangay officials if the situation calls for immediate action such as those that have caught the public's attention like the alleged cockfight in Manila Cemetery, Malaya said.

"Since were in a crisis situation, we want to show to the public that the DILG can also respond directly to complaints from the public with regards to barangay officials," he said.

Malaya, however, said the country's barangay system should be improved in order for local officials to properly address a pandemic.

Barangay officials should have higher qualifications and get a regular salary, he said.

"Given that they're frontliners I think it’s about time that government rethinks the systems in place for barangay officials so they’re able to respond to disasters like the coronavirus," Malaya said.

MODIFIED QUARANTINE

Government might partially lift the Luzon lockdown, set to end April 30, if the country is able to expand its mass testing for the virus and detect and isolate COVID-19 patients within the next 2 weeks, according to Malaya.

"We need to make the next 2 weeks work. If we are able to expand testing and we’re able to get a snapshot of the coronavirus infections in the country, we might be in a position to flatten the curve next week. Once we're able to do that then we’ll be able to finally implement a modified quarantine system," he said.

Visayas, Mindanao, Bicol, Ilocos and Cagayan Valley have the potential to lift their quarantine measures, Malaya said.