The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) stressed Tuesday, Aug. 31 that all local government units (LGUs) should strictly the stringent health protocols even down to the barangay level.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya issued the statement after a 30-day suspension was imposed on the barangay officials involved in the “karakol’’ and mass gathering event in Barangay Santiago, Gen. Trias Cavite last month.
Karakol is a religious dance procession held on the eve of the feast day of the patron saint of a particular town.
In a statement, the DILG welcomed and cited the Gen. Trias government for its immediate action and investigation following the incident.
“Kudos to the city mayor and the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) of Gen. Trias, Cavite for acting quickly on the ‘karakol’ incident (Congratulations to the (Gen. Trias) city mayor and the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Gen. Trias, Cavite for acting quickly on the “karakol’’ incident,’’ Malaya said.
Following DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año’s order to conduct a fact-finding investigation, Malaya said that Gen. Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer approved the recommendation of the SP to issue a 30-day preventive suspension to Barangay Santiago Punong Barangay (PB) Rolando Pagkaliwangan and Barangay Kagawads Joey Loyola, Francisco Solis, and Ferdinand Perdito.
In Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution No. 03-2021-176, the local legislative body of Gen. Trias recommended the issuance of preventive suspension for a period of 30 days against the concerned barangay officials pursuant to Section 63 of the Local Government Code to further investigate the incident and to provide an opportunity for the involved parties to be heard.
“Pinakamahalaga pa rin na ang mga LGU hanggang sa mga barangay ay matuto at mas maging mahigpit (enforcing health protocols) para hindi na maulit ang ganitong insidente lalo na ngayon na may community transmission na ang Delta variant (the most important still is that the LGU down to the barangay should learn and must strictly impose to prevent a similar incident especially with the community transmission of the delta variant),’’ he added.
Malaya expressed hope that the incident serves as a warning to all barangay officials that the DILG will not tolerate any violation of minimum public health standards (MPHS) during the pandemic.
In a viral video posted on social media, hundreds of residents of Barangay Santiago participated in a ‘karakol’ procession and mass gathering along Arnaldo Highway, deliberately violating MPHS such as wearing of face mask and face shield and physical distancing during the time when the LGU was under the general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions classification.
Prior to the imposition of the preventive suspension, the city mayor issued a show cause order against the concerned barangay officials after learning of the ‘karakol’ procession participated in by several barangay residents which is a violation of local issuances and Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 2021-50.
In his letter to the city mayor, Pagkaliwangan apologized and shared that he only required 30 percent of the barangay employees to join the ‘karakol’ and assist while following the safety health protocols.
He noted that some residents who were seen not wearing facemasks did so “when things got out of hand after a heavy rain, overwhelming the people to flock and join the parade.”
Malaya likewise reminded the public, vaccinated or not, to refrain from participating in mass gatherings especially that the country is currently in a bout with the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). (Chito A. Chavez)