By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is prepared to file cases against local government officials who commit “grave violations” of the Luzon-wide quarantine regulations, a Palace official said Thursday.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), however, will simply reach out and ask local officials to make adjustments if there is only “miscommunication” and “misapplication” of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) rules issued by the national government, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
“Ayaw kong pangunahan pero, yes, ang option na iyan ay nandiyan pa po. Kung mayroon talagang grievous and grave violation, then we will apply iyong Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” he said in a virtual press conference Thursday.
(I don’t want to preempt but yes, that’s an option. If there is really a grievous and grave violation, then we will apply the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.)
“Reserved lang naman iyong power to file cases and prosecute (The power to file cases and prosecute is reserved). That’s only in the grievous and grave instances,” he added.
So far, Nograles said the DILG is closely coordinating with local government officials to ensure the smooth implementation of quarantine guidelines imposed by the national government. He said the local officials have been cooperating whenever the DILG calls them out about adjustments on the quarantine rules.
“If it’s just a matter of miscommunication or misapplication or things like that doon sa guidelines na ini-impose ng national government, ay madali namang pakiusapan, puwede naman kausapin and the DILG has been doing that,” he said.
(If it’s just a matter of miscommunication or misapplication or things like that in the guidelines imposed by the national government, we can make an appeal, talk to them, and the DILG has been doing that.)
“We reach out, kinakausap ang LGUs (local government units), sinasabi na sumusobra kayo dito or sumusobra na tayo diyan, or kulang kayo dito or kulang kayo diyan (We reach out, talk to the LGUs, telling them if they exceed their authority or have shortcomings here and there), then the LGU will adjust, and they have been adjusting and they have been cooperating.”
Nograles made the statement after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) summoned Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto to explain his alleged violation of the government’s policy on the Luzon-wide quarantine.
The NBI sent a letter to Sotto asking him to appear at their office on April 17 to respond to allegations he violated Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan law.
Before the passage of the Bayanihan law, Sotto wanted to allow tricycles to ferry health workers to hospitals despite the Luzon quarantine that suspended public transport.
Reacting to the NBI summon, Sotto insisted he complied with “all directives” when the national government turned down his request to allow the operation of tricycles.
Asked to comment on Sotto’s case, Nograles said he has no first-hand knowledge about the matter.
But the Palace official said the national government appreciates the support and cooperation of local government units in helping curb the spread of the coronavirus and mitigate its impact on the people.
“Alam ninyo, lahat naman ng mga LGUs na tumutulong sa ating mga kababayan ay pinapasalamatan po namin,” he said.
(We thank all LGUs that are helping our countrymen.)
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa lahat ng mga LGUs na alam namin ay nagsasakripisyo at talagang nagtatrabaho para po maibigay ang nararapat sa kanilang mga constituents, para maproteksyunan ang kanilang mga constituents,” he said.
(We thank all the LGUs that we know are sacrificing and working hard to respond to the needs of their constituents, to ensure the protection of their constituents.)
Under the Bayanihan law, the President is authorized to ensure all local government units are “acting within the letter and spirit” of rules and regulations, including quarantine guidelines, issued by the national government.
In his first weekly report to Congress, the President said NBI is “investigating and filing charges against local government officials who willfully disregard, contravene, or violate national guidelines on community quarantine.”