MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has warned village chiefs that they would be liable if they fail to enforce quarantine measures designed to contain COVID-19.
During a meeting of the government's pandemic task force last Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reported that 18,862 persons violated safety protocols from May 6 to 10, the week after Duterte ordered the police to arrest people who do not wear face masks properly.
Año said 904 persons were arrested while 9,379 others were given warnings. A total of 8,027 individuals were fined, 491 were asked to render community service while 61 underwent inquest procedures, he added. With regard to violations of physical distancing, 5,473 violators were issued warnings or fined, 205 were asked to render community service while 186 underwent inquest procedures.
"We will continue to implement your instructions because violations of public health standards cause outbreaks, especially the non-wearing of face masks," Año said.
Reacting to Año's report, Duterte said it is also the responsibility of village chiefs to implement the COVID-19 safety protocols, noting that they are considered persons in authority.
"As barangay captain, you are called upon and will be held liable for the failure of implementing the law in your territory," Duterte said.
"You have to enforce the law, the barangay captains, within your area. You are the person in authority," he added.
Duterte said people who defy authorities would face charges.
"But you know, the guidance and everything, direction, should be followed by the persons in authority… That's what the law means here," the president said.
Duterte, nevertheless, said he is satisfied with the implementation of the law.
Año said one of the most recent breaches of protocols is the gathering of about 300 people in the Gubat sa Ciudad resort in Caloocan City. He said the police and the local government would file charges against the violators including the resort owner. The barangay captain who has jurisdiction over the resort would be summoned and arrested for failing to enforce health protocols, he added.
"I am talking with DOJ (Department of Justice) Secretary Meynard Guevarra and we are crafting guidelines to strengthen the implementation of guidelines on mass gathering and non-wearing of face masks," the interior chief said.
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