Local government officials may be slapped with administrative and criminal charges if they don’t enforce the quarantine rules in their areas of jurisdiction, President Duterte warned Wednesday, April 28.
The President said he would direct Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to hold mayors and barangay captains liable for any dereliction of duty should they allow mass gatherings, which are prohibited in areas under the strict lockdown in National Capital Region Plus.
Duterte issued the directive after expressing concern about the reported violations of quarantine regulations while the country’s cases of infections surpassed the one millionth mark.
“I will hold responsible and I will direct the Secretary of Local Government, DILG, to hold the mayors responsible for this kind of events happening in their places. It is a violation of the law and if you do not enforce the law. There’s a dereliction of duty which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code so the DILG will proceed against you for not doing your duty as mayor, barangay captain,” he said during a televised address Wednesday, April 28.
“Do not give me that sh*t na hindi mo alam (that you don’t know). The local government will go after you administratively and criminally. Pag may nangyari pang pistahan, sayawan diyan, ang tawagin ng DILG ang mayor at barangay captain (If any fiesta, dancing occur in your area, the DILG will put to task the mayor and barangay captain) and then he will proceed to enforce the law,” he said.
He noted that concerned local officials will be given a chance to give their side on why they should not be charged for dereliction of duty.
Mass gatherings remained prohibited in Metro Manila and nearby provinces under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). The latest quarantine level of National Capital Region Plus has been extended until mid-May to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Apart from a ban on large gatherings, other MECQ rules are stay-at-home rule except for going to work and getting essential needs, nighttime curfew, as well as limited business operations and public transportation.
The police force earlier reported more than 50,000 persons have violated quarantine rules during the MECQ period in the NCR plus.
In his remarks, the President reminded the mayors and barangay captains about their responsibility to enforce the country’s laws.
Duterte admitted that violating safety protocols becomes a crime when a person becomes a “spreader” of the virus. He said the State could exercise the police power to promote “public interest and public health” by imposing rules to suppress the outbreak.
“We have to protect other people from not getting sick so we have to impose rules. The rules are there and you do not follow,” he said.
“There is a national health emergency, with that comes the power of state to control a pandemic,” he added.
As of April 28, the country has reported 6,895 new cases of infections bringing the total number of cases to 1,020,495. The death toll has reached 17,031.