3 local execs facing charges over quarantine violations – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2020   •   394

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it has filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against three local officials for their alleged violations of the quarantine protocols.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said two administrative complaints have been filed against the mayor and a councilor in Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan for allegedly holding a birthday celebration despite the prevailing ban on mass gathering under the enhanced community quarantine rules.

Año said the gathering violated social distancing and the prevailing curfew.

Meanwhile, the DILG also filed a complaint against the mayor of Buluan, Maguindanao after he allegedly failed to prohibit mass gatherings in his municipality.

The department said it has not received any reply to the show cause order issued to the said mayor hence he has been considered to have waived his right to reply.

“Binusisi po ng maigi ng Kagawaran ang mga natanggap na reklamo at ebidensya laban sa ilang local government officials. Base rin sa kanilang naging sagot sa show cause orders ng DILG ay napag-alamang mayroon silang naging kapabayaan,” Año said.

The DILG chief also said they have sent a letter of admonition and warning to a city mayor from Central Luzon for supposedly holding a mass gathering when distributing Social Amelioration Program (SAP) forms to the transport sector.

The DILG said the mayor has already committed to adopt corrective measures to avoid similar incidents.

A town mayor from Western Visayas was also admonished by the DILG for allegedly refusing to allow an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) to be quarantined within the municipality because the OFW was said to have come from an “infected country” despite obtaining the necessary clearances from appropriate agencies.

Año said there was no showing that the municipal government exerted effort to facilitate the return of the OFW in violation of the President’s directive to welcome all OFWs subject to local health protocols.

“Ngayong panahon ng pandemya lalong higit dapat bantayan ng DILG ang mga pamahalaang lokal sa maayos na pangagasiwa at pagpapatupad ng nasyunal na polisiya at tiyaking natutugunan ang mga daing ng mamamayan laban sa kanilang mga lokal na lider,” he said.

Also, an admonition was also issued to a town mayor from Ilocos Region for unruly behavior towards police officers assigned at a checkpoint and who was alleged to have been intoxicated when it happened.

The DILG vowed to continue handling complaints from the public about the questionable actions of local officials.

“In first issuing the Show Cause Order, we ensure that due process is observed and that the side of the local chief executive is heard before we make our conclusions,” the department said.

IATF to study mayors’ bid to retain Metro Manila under GCQ after Sept. 30 – Año

Robie de Guzman   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Most mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) are in favor of extending the general community quarantine (GCQ) being implemented in the region, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Friday.

Año said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will meet on Sunday, Sept. 27 to discuss the recommendation of the Metro Manila Council on the next quarantine status in NCR by October.

“Maraming mga mayors ng NCR ang gusto pa rin mag-GCQ pero depende pa rin sa usapan sa Sunday,” he said.

Metro Manila is under GCQ until Sept. 30 as earlier recommended by the IATF and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Año said they will thoroughly discuss the Metro Manila mayors’ proposal in order to balance the factors of public health and economy which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dalawa ‘yan: mahigpit na MGCQ o maluwag na GCQ. Kapag titignan mo mas maganda talaga na naka-GCQ tayo kahit magluwag ka ng konti pero meron kang talagang mas mataaas na panuntunan kaysa yung nag MGCQ ka pagkatapos hihigpitan mo,” he said.

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier said that Metro Manila could be placed under modified GCQ as this would allow the reopening of more industries to help revive the economy.

The IATF is also set to meet with Duterte on Sunday night to discuss the next quarantine classifications in NCR. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

No more deadline: Hiring of contact tracers to continue until target is reached – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will do away with deadlines and instead continue to hire contact tracers until their target of at least 50,000 is reached.

In a statement, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency’s provincial and city field offices will continue to accept applications until the slots allocated to them have been filled up.

The department earlier announced that the submission of applications for contact tracers is only until Sept. 23.

 “What’s important to us is to fill up the slots and recruit the most number of Contact Tracers as provided in the Bayanihan 2 law so those who meet the deadline will immediately be processed but we will continue to accept applications until we have met our targets,” he said.

Malaya said that some 10,000 individuals have already applied in Metro Manila but many have incomplete documents so they are giving more time for them to complete the requirements on a first come, first served basis.

“As soon as they are deemed qualified by the selection board, they will be hired, trained, and deployed to the various LGUs,” he added.

The DILG official said the first batch of DILG-hired contact tracers will be deployed to the local government units by first week of October.

The department earlier said that local and overseas Filipino workers whose service have been recently terminated or their employment contracts were not renewed amid the pandemic will be given priority in the hiring process.

 To qualify, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree or college level in an allied medical course or criminology course.

Aspirants must also be skilled in data gathering and have assisted in research and documentation; able to interview COVID-19 cases and close contacts in order to gather data; possess the ability to advocate public health education messages; and have investigative capability.
 
“While our first preference is college graduates or college level of allied medical courses or criminology, we are also open to graduates or college level of any course. So, we urge them to apply and help the country defeat COVID-19,” he said.
Malaya said applicants are required to submit an application letter, Personal Data Sheet, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, diploma or transcript of record, and drug test result to the nearest DILG provincial or city field office.

Contact tracers will earn a minimum of P18,784 per month in a contract of service status.

Their responsibilities include conducting interviews, profiling, and perform an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their identified close contacts; refer the close contacts to isolation facilities; conduct enhanced contact tracing in collaboration with other agencies and private sectors; conduct daily monitoring of close and general contacts for at least 14 days, and perform such other tasks in relation to the COVID response.

DILG orders CIDG to probe group behind ‘flatten the fear’ event

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to look into the “flatten the fear” event allegedly held by a group seeking an end to all community quarantine restrictions in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Wednesday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the CIDG to probe the group’s reported violation of prohibition on mass gathering, physical distancing and other minimum health protocols.

“Inutusan na po natin ang PNP-CIDG para masusing imbestigahan ang naturang mass gathering kung dapat ba silang managot sa kanilang paglabag sa mga alintuntunin sa panahon ng pandemya,” Año said.

“Maaaring gusto lamang ng grupong ito na makatulong sa pamahalaan para tuluyang masugpo ang pandemya, subalit ang kanilang idinaos na mass gathering at tahasang hindi pagsuot ng face mask ay lubhang delikado hindi lamang para sa kanila kundi pati na rin sa kani-kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.

Año said the investigation is upon the request of the Department of Health.

He said the members of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines recently held a mass gathering dubbed as Flatten the Fear campaign where many of its participants purposely did not wear face mask because according to them, they do not need to do so as they are already on prophylaxis and preventive treatment of COVID-19.

The DILG chief said that the group’s call to end all restrictions at this critical time sends a wrong message to the public and undermines months of hard work by health authorities to flatten the curve and defeat the coronavirus disease.

He added that the group should have discussed first with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) its recommendations instead of holding a mass gathering as “this move undermines the work that has been done for many months by our frontliners.”

“We wish to remind them that we are not out of the woods yet and that community transmission is on-going. While we have been able to lower our cases, we cannot be complacent and let down our guard since an outbreak may suddenly occur as what we have seen in many countries all over the world,” he said.

“Kapag tuluyan nating tinanggal ang Community Quarantine na hindi pa natin lubos na napapababa ang mga kaso, maaaring magkaroon ng biglang pagdami ng kaso at magugulat na lang tayo sa biglang dami ng pasyente na ating aasikasuhin,” he added.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 291,789 COVID-19 infections, 56,097 of which are active cases.

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