Mon. May 10th, 2021

Mayors or barangay officials who fail to enforce quarantine protocols and prevent a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in their municipality or city may face administrative or criminal charges, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday night.

(Courtesy: Residents line up to get free food and supplies as the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City reopens on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Duterte threatened to punish mayors and barangay officials over “dereliction of duty” as he lamented the continued surge in Covid-19 infections due to failure to implement minimum health and safety standards.

“I will hold responsible and I will direct the secretary of the [Department of the Interior and Local Government], to hold the mayors and responsible for these kind of events happening in their places,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech.

He said the DILG could easily go after mayors and barangay officials if proven that they were not performing their duties.

“It is a violation of the law and if you do not enforce the law, there is a dereliction of duty which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code. So the DILG can proceed against you for not doing your duty as mayor or as a barangay captain, but not so much about the mayor,” he added.

Duterte said he would not buy any excuses made by local officials since they should be able to exercise their power to slow down the increase in Covid-19 transmissions.

“The local government will go after you administratively and criminally. If there are fiestas or dances there, the DILG will summon the mayor and barangay captain, and then he will proceed to enforce the law. Since he is my alter ego, it’s a civilian department, and he can exercise that power,” he said.

He also directed DILG Secretary Eduardo Año to give mayors and barangay captains “enough time” to explain why they should not be punished for their negligence.

“Maybe call the attention of the mayor and the barangay captain and to give them enough time to answer administratively and criminally why you should not go to prison for not enforcing the law,” he added.

Under the police power of the state, Duterte said mayors and barangay officials “are the ones who should be responsible for the enforcement of the law.”

“There is a national emergency, a national health emergency. With that comes also the power of the state to control whatever there is to control whether it’s a pandemic, epidemic or whatever medical, police power can be exercised to control crime, to promote public interest, to promote public health,” he said.

Duterte noted that exercising police power is necessary “to protect other people from not getting sick.”

He also admitted that he was not surprised that the Philippines’ total Covid-19 cases breached the 1 million mark.Duterte added there were only two ways to significantly reduce the transmission of the virus namely, vaccination and observance of quarantine protocols. SOVEREIGNPH

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