Upset with the reports of super spreader events, President Duterte has ordered the arrest of barangay captains who fail to enforce the rules against mass gatherings in the country.
According to the President, barangay captains could be slapped with charges of dereliction of duty for allowing gatherings such as picnics and parties that can spawn coronavirus outbreaks.
“If there’s one single incident beginning tonight, the police will just arrest the barangay captain first and bring him to the station together with those holding the picnic, have them investigated and detain them,” he said in a televised address late Wednesday.
“Pag may isa pa, ang unang hulihin ang barangay captain (If there’s another violation, the first one to be arrested is the barangay captain). I’m ordering the police to arrest the barangay captain and bring him to the station, investigate him for dereliction of duty, having failed to enforce the law,” he added.
Duterte said barangay captains are considered “persons in authority” who must enforce the law in their communities. “If you’re not doing anything, then I will order your arrest…Dereliction of duty is your omission really to do your work,” he added.
And for those barangay officials refuse to perform their job, Duterte told these officials to just relinquish their post.
The President issued the remarks after Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reported a rise in mass gatherings such as picnics and parties despite the community quarantine implementation. Año mentioned that many people tested positive for coronavirus after attending these social activities. Barangay officials, he said, have been directed to strictly enforce the health and safety protocols, conduct patrols as well as inspection of sports, recreation and leisure facilities to prevent large gatherings that can become sources of super spreader of the virus.
In his remarks, the President expressed dismay with such incidents and directed the police to apprehend “stubborn” violators of the rule against large gatherings. He argued that it was “criminal” to spread coronavirus to other people.
“I will look for a suitable law because you are now forcing my hand to get into this thing and control it,” he said.
“Most of you are committing a crime kasi alam ninyo na after a gathering — after a gathering, after swimming together, a lot of you will get positive na for COVID-19. Parang wala kayong — binabalewala ninyo ang pakiusap ng gobyerno (You’re ignoring the appeal of the government) and it’s criminal for you to get the COVID and pass it on to another innocent person. It is really a crime,” he said.
Duterte said the people flouting the health protocols were “not contributing to the lowering of the COVID-19 cases but rather you are there to transmit by getting positive and transmit it to your” family.
If people will be “nonchalant” and break health protocols, Duterte warned there will be no end to the country’s coronavirus problem.