MANILA – Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Monday warned local officials against issuing quarantine identification passes for a fee, stressing that they may face maximum penalty for these abuses.
In a televised Laging Handa public briefing, Nograles slammed reports that some local officials were asking some amount in exchange for the quarantine pass stressing that they should be given to each household for free.
“Hindi puwede gumawa ng ganiyang klaseng mga pangongotong at pangaabuso (That type of extortion or abuse is not allowed). On a state of calamity, any abuses…baka yung maximum penalty ang puwede maisampa sa inyo (the maximum penalty might be imposed against you),” he said, addressing local officials.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be reprimanding and penalizing local officials who violate the issuance of free passes, he added.
He also urged local government unit officials to coordinate with the DILG on concerns related to quarantine passes to ensure that they comply with their guidelines.
“May guidelines pong pinalabas ang DILG. Ang mga LGUs natin, kung may gagawin kayong hakbang based doon sa guidelines ay lagi po makipag-ugnayan sa DILG. Always coordinate para po tama ang ginagawa ninyo and lahat ng LGUs would be working on common ground (The DILG has released guidelines. If you are going to undertake measures based on the guidelines, always coordinate with the DILG to ensure that you’re doing it properly and so all LGUs would be working on common ground),” he said.
In a phone patch interview during the program, Pasig City Mayor Vicco Sotto appealed to the Philippine National Police-National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) to allow him to eliminate the requirement of quarantine slips which defeats the person of social distancing.
“Humihingi ako ng clearance sa ating PNP-NCRPO pati po sa joint task force natin na hindi po kailangan nung quarantine pass kasi po ang nakita po namin based sa setup, sa hitsura ng mga barangay namin especially yung malalaking barangay ho ay magiging additional person-to-person contact (We are requesting for clearance from the PNP-NCRPO and the joint task force that we no longer require quarantine passes because we noticed that based on our setup in our barangays, it would be additional person-to-person contact),” he said.
He stressed that what is important is the strict implementation of the home quarantine and only allowing one person per household to go outside and buy food and other necessities.
Those caught leaving the house in pairs and groups will be penalized and arrested, he said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a phone interview with the Philippine News Agency, said while it is “much better” to issue quarantine slips, it is not a requirement.
He said local officials may not require special passes as long as their quarantine measures are proven effective.
In a statement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya explained the quarantine pass is the policy of the local government units and barangays and not by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Malaya advised the barangays to be “more circumspect and reasonable” in their implementation of their policies.
Health workers exempted
Health workers, however, do not need to apply for quarantine passes or additional IDs to get exempted from the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, Nograles said.
He said health workers can simply show their Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) license or identification card issued by their respective hospitals and other health facilities.
“Gusto ko lang po linawin na para sa ating mga health workers, hindi po kayo kailangang kumuha ng mga accreditation IDs mula sa Department of Health (I want to clarify that health workers are not required to apply for accreditation IDs from the Department of Health),” he said.
He thanked health workers for risking their lives fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our health workers, you are our real-life heroes. We thank you for your sacrifice and your service to the nation,” he said.
Since all mass transport has been suspended under the Luzon-wide quarantine, the government has provided health workers with free transport to get to their respective hospitals and health facilities. (PNA with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)