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Friday, May 24, 2024

Barangay officials directly liable for ECQ violations

"People really, really need to stay home."

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Clearly, the Enhanced Community Quarantine has effectively helped contain the spread of the contagion novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

With the estimated 20 million residents in Metro Manila on lockdown in the past five weeks, the health authorities have been able to cope with the local epidemic with the arrival of the needed testing kits and additional testing centers.

Despite the repeated appeals from President Duterte himself for continued cooperation through the extended lockdown period, however, not quite a few would rather ignore the ECQ rules and preventive measures against the virus’ spread.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the state of public health emergency, headed by the Department of Health, has explained repeatedly day in and day out the need for people to stay home for the duration of the ECQ in the hope of flattening the curve on COVID-19 incidence.

Unfortunately, the gains from the efforts of public and private sectors in the war against COVID-19 are being undermined by a number of people who violate the ECQ rules, including barangay officials themselves.

Barangay chairmen and other officials have in many instances tolerated this. Still, there are those who refuse to venture out in violation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020.

They even engage in illegal activities such as drinking in public, loitering during curfew hours, and illegal gambling. These go on under the nose of barangay officials and some local government units in Metro Manila and in other regions.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he would slap some barangay officials with administrative charges for the shameless quarantine violations.

In Parola, Tondo, barangay officials themselves allowed boxing and bingo, disregarding rules on social distancing.

Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan pressed for the preventive suspension of a barangay captain and three councilmen for sponsoring illegal cockfight or tupada at the North Cemetery.

Eleven other people were caught in the act of holding tupada in Meycauayan City, Bulacan, and are now facing multiple charges for resistance and disobedience, illegal gambling and violation of ECQ rules on social gathering.

The IATF also said at least three governors, two mayors and quite a number of barangay chairmen will have to explain to the Department of the Interior and Local Government why they violated ECQ rules—or face suspension and charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.

These were but a few of the ECQ violations that have been reported over the past week. Others were a religious procession and pabasa in violation of social distancing which the Catholic Church itself had discouraged.

After the Holy Week, the usual scene of vehicular traffic along EDSA unraveled as if people were going on leisure trips and did not know that the ECQ has been extended till April 30.

The Philippine National Police said over 17,000 persons have been apprehended or cited for various lockdown violations, including illegal gambling like tupada and saklaan. 

Barangay officials, as well as local government unit (LGU) officials, are directly liable for such ECQ violations.

I would say that by and large, the Filipino populace of over 109 million have cooperated and supported the government measures in response to the pandemic that has devastated livelihoods and the economy.

We will not allow the gains of the ECQ and the sacrifices of those health workers and policemen in the frontline to come to naught just because some of our fellowmen would rather put themselves at risk of virus contamination.

Though there is a continued increase in the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in the country, there is a notable rise in the number of recovered patients, just as we had pointed out last week.

COVID-19 cases reached 5,660 as of Thursday, April 16, but correct me if I’m wrong­—such number is a meager percentage of the total tests conducted at the 16 laboratories accredited by the Department of Health.

That simply means most of the people who get sick and show coronavirus-like symptoms turned out negative for the dreaded disease.

It’s welcome news indeed that recovered COVID-19 patients (435) has outnumbered those who succumbed to it (362) as of the last tally. That’s not to mention that more patient recoveries may not have been reported at all.

We should be thankful that the Grim Reaper has visited the Philippines less frequently that he has Italy, United States, Spain, United Kingdom and other countries where hundreds die from COVID-19 each day.

I said we should be thankful that President Duterte decided to heed the advice of the Department of Health authorities to impose the general community quarantine first in Metro Manila instead of heading for Boracay Island to promote tourism despite the global pandemic threat.

Instead Manong Digong made the urgent announcement and, on the following day, placed the entire Luzon under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) altogether with the declaration of the state of public health emergency.

With everyone’s cooperation, we will see the glimmer of hope of recovery in the days to come. I hope we will have fewer “pasaway” violators of the Enhanced Community Quarantine rules.

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