MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday said it is keeping a close watch on the presence of local officials in their respective areas amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.
“So far, accounted naman lahat ng governors, mayors and barangay captains (So far, all governors, mayors and barangay captains are all accounted for). We are continuously monitoring their physical presence in their localities,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a message when asked if they have monitored reports on local officials who are allegedly missing in action.
Año said that while the local chief executives are authorized to implement measures amid the ECQ, these have to be compliant with laws and rules set by the national government.
“They cannot do anything that is not consistent with the national laws. They are insisting they are protecting their people. We also want to protect our people but they (orders) should not contradict (the IATF guidelines),” he added.
Año said the top violation of these local officials was hampering the flow of goods in their areas.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) states that all cargoes should be unhampered to ensure stable supply of food and other basic necessities.
Año said that some governors and mayors have prevented the shipment of goods outside their areas to ensure their constituents will not go hungry during the quarantine period.
“They don’t want products from their areas to go outside their province so their province will not go hungry. They said they produced these products so they should be the first to consume these. That is a selfish mentality,” said Año.
Año earlier warned to submit the names of these governors and mayors to President Duterte for possible sanctions, if they fail to justify their defiance of the IATF-EID guidelines.
“They already submitted their response. Our legal (division) is evaluating if their explanation is valid,” said Año.
The Luzon-wide lockdown or enhanced community quarantine was extended until April 30.
He said the agency is now discussing measures to be implemented once the ECQ is lifted, which may include a mandatory wearing of face masks until a vaccine against Covid-19 is developed.
“Do not expect everything will be normal after the lockdown. No. Until a vaccine is developed, we are going to implement measures…If ever we lift it, we will continue to implement measures. When there is no longer a lockdown, we should be used to washing our hands, wearing a mask and observe social distancing. Maybe, there is a need to pass ordinances, a law that will punish violators of social distancing,” said Ano.
He, meanwhile, said the possibility of another ECQ extension will be based on “epidemiological data” as well as the capacity of health care facilities to attend to Covid-19 patients and the establishment of isolation facilities throughout the country. (PNA)