MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday directed all local government units (LGUs) in Luzon to follow the approved Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) guidelines on the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the island.
Duterte made the call as he recognized the LGUs’ vital role in the national government’s efforts to arrest the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“I know you have the mandate to deal with emergencies affecting your localities. I was a (former) mayor myself, in case you have forgotten. But this is an emergency of national proportions, and therefore, it is the national government that should call the shots. The national governing body in charge of laying down the standards for this quarantine is the IATF or the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease,” Duterte said in his message to the Luzon LGU executives.
Luzon island is under quarantine until April 12 to stop further spread of Covid-19.
Over 5.3 million people from Luzon are required to stay at home and can only go outside when they need to buy basic necessities.
Those exempted from the restrictions are the military and the police, health workers, media practitioners, and others rendering essential services.
Duterte reminded LGUs in Luzon to avoid making the situation “more difficult” for the people.
He said LGUs should ensure that their actions are consistent with the national directives so as not to sow confusion among their constituents.
He said going beyond the rules imposed by the national government would only add “more trouble.”
“To all LGUs, let us move forward together with one accord, implement the lockdowns, and save our people from the dreaded disease, once and for all,” Duterte said.
Duterte acknowledged that the Covid-19 outbreak is already taking a toll on everyone.
“If you go beyond the standards that we have set, you are abusing your authority,” Duterte said.
Duterte said local officials should realize that their respective territories are “not separate from a republic or each other.”
“There is only one republic here — the Republic of the Philippines. And therefore, you should abide by the directives of the national government when it sets the directives of the whole for the good of the country and the protocols observed during the time of the lockdown,” he said.
He directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to closely monitor the compliance of local governments.
He said the DILG and the DOJ can file administrative and criminal cases against erring LGUs.
“You know, move in one direction, in unison, precisely to place the contagion in control for the better health of our Filipino, our countrymen,” Duterte said.
“(Abusing authority) can lead to (the filing of) administrative cases or even worse, unless you stop what you are doing and (cooperate) fully. Criminal cases cannot be far behind.”
Duterte on March 16 signed a presidential proclamation, placing the Philippines under a state of calamity for six months to allow LGUs to tap more funds that they can use amid the fight against Covid-19.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has 217 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 17 deaths and eight cases of recovery. (PNA)