Militant group members will be rearrested if they defy ECQ rules — DILG

Published April 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chito Chavez

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday warned members of the militant group Anakpawis that they will be re-arrested if they continue to break quarantine rules.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año  (PCOO/ MANILA BULLETIN)
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (PCOO/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Six Anakpawis members were nabbed last Sunday at a checkpoint in Norzagaray Bulacan for organizing a mass gathering in the guise of a relief distribution operation which is a violation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) rules.

After being detained, the Anakpawis members were charged before the Regional Trial Court and released on bail.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año vowed that “no one will be spared once they violate the ECQ guidelines set by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the DILG.’.

He added that the Anakpawis members “will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for flaunting the rules set by the government during this pandemic.’’

“They were in violation of ECQ guidelines at the time when the the entire country is struggling to contain the coronavirus to prevent further transmission,’’ Año said.

Año said violating ECQ rules also puts the lives of the public at risk.

The DILG chief said that six Anakpawis members were released on Wednesday after posting bails amounting to P39,000 each for violation of RA 11332 and other laws.

Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao also posted a P30,000 bail for usurpation of authority.

Año insisted that the said Anakpawis members took advantage of the provision granted to food pass holders and violated physical distancing protocols with an attempt to organize mass gathering in the guise of relief efforts for the poor.

Upon inspection, numerous propaganda materials and banners were confiscated from the group.

“The Anakpawis incident was a clear demonstration of how food pass can be exploited for malicious intents in the guise of relief operation for the poor,’’ the DILG secretary said.

Año said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) made it clear that the food pass may not be used to conduct relief operations and other purposes outside of what is prescribed in the said pass.

In a statement, DA Secretary William Dar has clarified that food pass is a privilege given to producers, suppliers, and truckers that procure and deliver agri-fishery commodities and other food products to and from Manila and other provinces during the observance of the ECQ and cannot be used for relief operations.

No food pass, no entry

Following the Anakpawis incident, Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be vigilant and always be on the lookout for unauthorized use of the food pass in all checkpoints nationwide.

Año noted that the PNP must ensure that the recent incident of unauthorized use of food pass involving the members of the militant group Anakpawis will not happen again.

“The PNP’s consistent presence in checkpoints and their vigilance in counter-checking requisites such as the food pass and other permits can aid in ensuring that only permissible entities can pass through,” he added.

He explained that the DILG and the PNP were requested by the Department of Agriculture (DA) “to determine whether there are perceived violations in relation to the use of the food pass cards.”

The DILG said that the police officers manning the checkpoints were extensively briefed on the policies and directives that should be implemented during the ECQ.

He added that the DILG and the PNP are in constant communication with the DA and other national government agencies “to ensure that food transport in various checkpoints nationwide will be unimpeded.’’