By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday ordered concerned barangay officials to ensure that the residents of their respective turfs remain in their homes and observe quarantine and social distancing protocols as the number of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID) cases rose to 202 Wednesday noon.
With this directive, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año warned that incompetent barangay executives stand to face the most severe sanctions for non-compliance with the order.
He explained that unnecessary activities during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon are prohibited since there is a total lockdown as the government is trying its best to minimize people movement to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In his declaration of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for the whole of Luzon, President Duterte said the punong barangays (PBs) should be at the forefront of the implementation of the ECQ guidelines in their communities to stop the further community transmission of the virus.
The DILG issued a memorandum dated March 17 implementing the President’s directive and detailing the steps that must be undertaken to implement the total lockdown in Luzon.
In his memorandum to all local government units (LGUs), Año said barangay officials must lead in the enforcement of strict home quarantine in all households.
He reminded barangay officials to ensure that only one member of the family will be allowed to go outside to purchase basic necessities and food provisions.
The DILG chief noted that areas in the barangay where people gather for recreational activities must be closed.
“Fiestas, karakols, parades, and other related public assemblies; common religious congregations; gaming parlors, computer gaming shops, wellness centers, cockpits arenas, public playgrounds, basketball courts, beaches, and public parks, tiangges, open dry good markets, and sidewalk vending are prohibited and should be closed,’’ he said.
He saids that barangays should also ensure that the citizens are practicing proper quarantine and social distancing measures, and that immediate health protocols are in place.
Año said barangay officials may face charges of gross neglect of duty, gross negligence, and insubordination for failing to perform their responsibilities under the state of public health emergency.
Año also reminded barangay officials to mobilize their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) and establish Barangay Isolation Units (BIUs).
He said BHERTs must visit the home of barangay residents who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and of arriving passengers from a coronavirus-infected country within the locality to ensure that residents are all accounted for.
Meanwhile, Año also encouraged the barangays to establish BIUs where asymptomatic COVID-19 patients can be lodged to leave space for critically ill patients in the hospitals.
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