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Local officials warned on mass gatherings

DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said local officials should be quick in acting against mass gatherings, and that local chief executives and barangay leaders may be punished with negligence and dereliction of duty and police officers with reassignment or removal from office. (Edd Gumban, file)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has warned local chief executives, barangay leaders and local police of penalties for supposed negligence over prohibited mass gatherings in their jurisdiction, citing the rise of “super spreader” events in several areas in Metro Manila.

DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said local officials should be quick in acting against mass gatherings, and that local chief executives and barangay leaders may be punished with negligence and dereliction of duty and police officers with reassignment or removal from office.

“We wish to remind our local government officials, including the barangay and the Philippine National Police station commander, that the President has spoken. That you will be held responsible for any super spreader event that happens in your specific locality. So you will have to continue monitoring all of these,” Malaya said at a virtual press briefing yesterday.

The DILG issued the warning on the heels of a reported super spreader event in Quezon City that has infected over 50 people in one barangay.

Malaya said the DILG has not only monitored gatherings in Quezon City but also in several parts of Metro Manila and even outside the region, where a spike in cases was recorded.

Reacting to a pool party in Quezon City that became a super spreader event for COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday reminded the public that the pandemic is not yet over.

At a press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it was “saddening” that such an incident happened despite their repeated reminders against COVID-19.

“Although the number of cases in the country is decreasing, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still here and cases can increase again,” she noted.

The undated incident in Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon prompted the Quezon City government to test at least 600 residents and place the community under lockdown since mid-May.

Vergeire said that while they recognize that many people are now longing to socialize and to have a celebration, they should always keep in mind that the virus is still around and ready to pounce on anyone at any time.

“Let’s be vigilant and remain in your own family bubble. Do not engage in this kind of celebration yet because there is still a big possibility for us to be infected,” she maintained.

She added the National Capital Region and surrounding provinces used to have 3,000 to 4,000 new cases daily but this is now down to 1,500. – Sheila Crisostomo, Neil Jayson Servallos

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