After Duterte's arrest warning vs erring brgy captains, NTF spox says gov't to be compassionate
MANILA - A member of the task force overseeing the country's response to the pandemic said Thursday the government will adopt a "compassionate approach" in dealing with barangay captains who fail to stop mass gatherings within their jurisdictions, following President Rodrigo Duterte's warning to arrest them during such situations.
"There will be warning first. They will be reminded. It will be a compassionate approach because we know the circumstances they are facing," retired Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, told TeleRadyo in Filipino.
In a public address aired Wednesday night, Duterte warned barangay captains that they would be arrested for allowing super-spreader events, which constitutes dereliction of duty.
"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," he said.
(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 a problem for me.)
If village chiefs fail to enforce health protocols, authorities will take an aggressive action against them, Padilla said.
"If they will not enforce the protocols and the cases continue to rise because they are not responsible, they will face aggressive action," the retired military officer said. "They could be fined or suspended."
For Padilla, village leaders should not be remiss in their work amid the lingering threat of COVID-19.
"There's no reason for them to say they failed to stop it because their areas are too big," he said in Filipino.
"First, they run as barangay head and they were elected. Their constituents believed they could perform their duties," he added.
Mass gatherings in public areas in Caloocan City, Bulacan and Zamboanga City were recently reported despite restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.