Año urges barangays, various groups help prevent Covid upsurge

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año called on barangays, community leaders, election campaign organizers, business establishments and other concerned parties to help enforce minimum public health standards (MPHS) to prevent Covid-19 surge.

In a briefing with the President aired on April 27, Año stressed the urgency of strictly implementing the health protocols against the virus even with the projection of another Covid-19 spike in the coming weeks or months.

Año stressed that the ‘biggest challenge’ is on the May 9 national and local election where at least 60 million voters are expected to go outdoors and cast their votes in the country’s polling precincts.

Even before the actual election day, Año said that the Philippine National Police (PNP), local government units (LGUs) and state authorities have their hands full in maintaining crowd control as the relaxed Alert Level system coupled with the election campaign period have resulted to six digit number crowds attending all sorts of poll activities.

From April 15 to 24, Año told the President that there was a 196 percent rise in the number of persons violating the face mask rule, 5,469 percent increase in the conduct of mass gathering and 201 percent surge in the number of the physical distancing protocol.

Although there were no granular lockdowns in the country, Año pointed out that 20,266 people were warned for not wearing face masks, 6,263 people were fined or cited, 1,834 did community service while cases were filed against 259 individuals for a total of 84,969 violators of the offense.

From the previous 13 incidents, Año lamented that the number of mass gathering offenses reached 724 while the physical distancing infraction skyrocketed to 9,057 from the previous number of 3,002.

As the election campaign heats up, Año said 41,965 PNP personnel were deployed in 5,431 established Commission on Election (Comelec) checkpoints as of April 24 to ensure public order and safety especially with the nearing May polls.

With the strict monitoring of the PNP on lawlessness, Año said that from Jan 9 to April 25 2,820 persons were nabbed in the reported 2,692 gun ban violations.

In the same period, various law enforcement authorities seized 1,033 deadly weapons, 2,147 forearms and 11,437 ammunition.

“Sisiguraduhin po natin na magkakaroon tayo ng isang mapayapa, maayos, at ligtas ang ating mamamayan sa darating na eleksyon sa Mayo 9, 2022 (We will ensure the public will have a peaceful, orderly and safe this coming election on May 9, 2022),’’ Año said.

The election gun ban period was established during the election period from January 9 to June 8.

The DILG chief also noted that 1,423 individuals were arrested in 1,030 illegal drug operations conducted while 109 others surrendered from April 17 to 25 as the government continues its all-out war against illegal drugs.

During the said period, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), PNP and other government anti-narcotics authorities confiscated 39.81 kilograms of shabu and 141.88 kilograms of marijuana worth P287,767,237.82. (Chito A. Chavez)