MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday urged local government units (LGUs) to coordinate with them on the implementation of guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), to prevent confusion.
This came after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año cited reports that confusion on the implementation of the measure resulted in the hampered delivery of basic goods.
“There must be coordination, dialogue, and agreement. I cannot name those LGUs but we are already doing official communication with them,” Año said in a Laging Handa press briefing on Friday.
His remarks came after President Rodrigo Duterte called out LGUs for supposedly implementing different policies when it comes to the movement of cargoes and goods.
The President has directed all LGUs in Luzon to follow the approved IATF-EID guidelines on the implementation of the quarantine.
Duterte made the call as he recognized the LGUs’ vital role in the national government’s efforts to arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Año reiterated that all cargoes should always be allowed to pass through checkpoints.
“May mga ibang LGUs na nag-iba ng (Some LGUs had a different) interpretation. For example, the checkpoint and passing of cargo, kasama diyan dapat lahat ng cargo (all cargoes are included), especially food and medicines, should be unhampered,” he said.
Año noted that LGUs in the Visayas and Mindanao have the option to declare a general community quarantine but they should coordinate with the DILG and Department of Health (DOH).
“But because some LGUs in Visayas and Mindanao, nag-lockdown sila ng border, ayaw na nilang paraanin ‘yung cargoes na ito na kailangang makarating sa iba’t-ibang lugar, kasama na din ang island ng Luzon (But because some LGUs in the Visayas and Mindanao have locked down their borders, they do not allow cargoes to pass, even those that need to reach Luzon),” he explained.
Año further said some LGUs have declared that domestic flights had been canceled.
“Malinaw naman guidelines kaya dapat sundin (The guidelines are clear, so the LGUs should follow them),” he added.
DILG spokesman, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, warned LGUs of sanctions if they fail to follow the quarantine guidelines.
The DILG has been receiving reports that the delivery of petroleum, animal feeds, and even flour was being stopped at certain control points upon orders of mayors and governors.
Malaya said policemen deployed to checkpoints should only implement the orders of the Chief Executive.
“It was discussed that the police should take order from the President, not the mayors because the mayor cannot overrule the President,” he said.
Duterte has instructed the DILG and the Department of Justice to monitor and study possible charges against local government officials who fail to comply with the orders.
Tricycles vs. e-trikes
Año also clarified the difference between the tricycles allowed to operate in Pasig and the e-trikes in Manila.
He noted that the e-trikes have been commissioned by the Manila city government and are not for picking up passengers.
“Commissioned by Manila for (the) purpose of bringing health workers, not to pick up passengers. Once the action of (the) Pasig City government is allowed, it cannot be controlled anymore,” Año said, adding that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could not check each of the estimated 270,000 tricycles in Metro Manila.
He said he would rather have the police and military focus on the checkpoints in Luzon.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, said Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto has committed to comply with the ban on the operation of tricycles.
“Mayor Vico, he already complied,” Sinas said in a separate press briefing.
He said the Pasig City government is currently using only its own vehicles.
Police chiefs have also been ordered to coordinate with the LGUs regarding the delivery of goods to families in need, Sinas said, adding that police personnel have been provided with protective gear so none of them would contract the disease.
Meanwhile, PNP Chief, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, said the challenge in the checkpoints is how to enforce social distancing among people.
He assured that police officers are strictly implementing the quarantine guidelines. (PNA)