MANILA – Local officials should give food packages to Filipinos whether or not they presented a quarantine pass or voter’s identification (ID), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday.
Año said requiring a quarantine pass or voter’s ID is not part of the guidelines under the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.
“Hindi requirement ang voter’s ID para bigyan ka ng quarantine pass or bigyan ka ng food assistance (The voter’s ID is not a requirement for you to be given a quarantine pass or food assistance),” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
While it may be a good control measure, he said there is no “hard rule” to require passes or IDs as long as their constituents strictly observed social-distancing of at least six feet away from each other.
He urged the public to report barangay officials who treated them unfairly so that they can immediately be penalized.
“Hindi tama ‘yan. Yan yang tinatawag na epal na mga barangay captain. I-report niyo sa’min ang pangalan, anong barangay, aaksyunan natin ‘yan (That’s not right. That’s what you call self-promoting barangay captains. Report their names, which barangay and we will take action),” he said.
He also warned barangay officials to think twice about how they treated their constituents as it would be their basis for electing new officials during the next elections.
“Malayo pa ang eleksyon. Kalimutan niyo ang eleksyon (Elections are far away. Forget about elections). But what you’re doing now will be the basis of the people whether you’ll be elected or not in the next election. Tandaan niyo ‘yan (Remember that),” he said.
He also said the public should also be allowed to buy food regardless if they presented passes or IDs or not.
“With or without quarantine pass, ang tao dapat payagan bumili ng pagkain kapag siya ang representative ng pamilya (persons should be allowed to buy food if they are the representative of their family),” he said.
The “no mask, no entry” policy is also not under the quarantine’s guidelines given the limited supply of face masks, he said.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, and restaurants should still accommodate persons not wearing face masks as long as they observed social distancing of at least six feet away from each other.
Meanwhile, he also urged local officials to lift window hours for buying food to prevent crowding.
“I’m advising all LGUs to lift the window hours for marketing or buying because kapag naglagay ka ng window hours kinukumpol-kumpol mo lang yung mga tao lalo (if you place window hours, there would be a large number of people gathered together),” he said.
In a Laging Handa public briefing, Interior Undersecretary Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya urged the public to give courtesy to the poor by declining food packages if they could afford to buy their own food.
“Lahat po tayo ay magtulungan ngunit ang prayoridad po ng gobyerno ay iyong mahihirap, at sila po ang tutulungan natin (Let’s all help each other but the priority of our government will be the poor, let’s help them),” he said.
Cabinet Secretary Nograles assured that middle-income families may not receive food or cash assistance but will be given other forms of assistance such as extending the grace period for payment of loans.
“Sa (For the) middle-income sector, there are other ways that government can help you. If it’s not food or cash assistance, it’s in other ways,” he said.
Under the newly-signed Bayanihan to Heal As One law, a technical working group will be tasked to develop a Social Amelioration Program to help local government units (LGUs) with depleted calamity funds.
Nograles said the government will put up PHP275 billion to augment the resources of the LGUS in combating the Covid-19 crisis. (ia/PNA)