By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local (DILG) said on Wednesday that three governors and two mayors were issued show cause orders (SCOs) for violation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) regulations imposed by President Duterte.
Stressing that no one is above the law, DILG Eduardo Año warned that the agency is hell bent on imposing ECQ policies and will not have second thoughts in having erring local officials suspended, sacked or even prohibited from running in any elective position in the future, if warranted.
This came about after two erring barangay chairmen from Quezon City and Caloocan City were admonished by the DILG and issued show cause orders for the same violation.
Año said that violation of quarantine directives issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and the DILG will not go unnoticed emphasizing that “the point of all of these national policies is to ensure unity, cohesion, and order in the entire country during the COVID-19 crisis which requires the LGU’s full cooperation and compliance”.
“As directed by the President himself, we will not go easy on local government officials who will violate the prescribed directives during the ECQ, that’s the mandate of the DILG – local government supervision. Therefore, we have no choice but to issue show cause orders and file the necessary charges against them, when necessary, kagaya ng ginawa natin sa ilang barangay official na lumabag din sa quarantine policies,” Año explained.
He said that the said local chief executives were given 48 hours from receipt of the show cause orders to submit a written explanation stating clearly why no administrative cases should be filed against them for negligence, dereliction of duty, and violation of the Bayanihan Act.
Año said that administrative cases will automatically be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in case the concerned LCE failed to issue their written explanations.
He noted that the erring local officials may also face criminal charges from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of the Department of Justice.
“Kagaya ng ating ginagawa sa mga pagkakataong tulad nito (Like what we have doing in these instances), we are giving them due process to explain and defend themselves because they enjoy the presumption of regularity in the exercise of official functions unless overturned by sufficient evidence,” Año said.
He also said that more show cause orders will be issued against “local chief executives in the next few days after the DILG has exhausted all avenues of dialogue with the LGUs’’.
“We consider LGUs as our partners from the very beginning but once we have exhausted all avenues for dialogue, we have no choice but to start filing cases. Hahabulin namin sila (We will run after them),” he added.
Four barangay officials from Quezon City and Caloocan City were recently issued SCOs for violation of physical distancing measures and prohibition against mass gathering guidelines under the ECQ.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the cooperation of the LGUs is vital in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
He noted that the DILG cannot yet reveal the names of those issued show cause orders because they are still awaiting the written explanation of the three governors and two mayors.
“As part of the procedural due process, we are asking them to explain. And if warranted, the DILG will file the necessary cases against them. Once we have done so, we can now release their names to the public because cases are now pending against them,” Malaya said.
He emphasized that violations of these local chief executives include violation of the prohibition against mass gatherings, failure to strictly implement social distancing measures, prohibiting the movement of all types of cargo through the borders of his LGU, refusing entry to OFWs that were issued health certifications by the DOH, prohibiting the operations of industries vital to the food security of our country, and prohibiting the entry of essential personnel like health workers into his LGU, among others.
The DILG will continue to encourage the public to report negligent local government officials to the DILG Hotline 8888, 911 and the DILG-Public Assistance and Complaint Center at 02-8925-0343. #