DILG warns Anakpawis not to violate ECQ again after members were released on bail

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2020   •   444

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday warned the Anakpawis group not to violate the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) regulations again following their release from detention.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued the warning after former Anakpawis Party-list representative Ariel Casilao and six other members have posted bail amounting to P264,000 on Wednesday night, April 22, following their arrest and detention for allegedly disobeying ECQ rules when they conducted “unauthorized” relief operations in Norzagaray Bulacan.

The group was apprehended after their jeepney was flagged down at a quarantine control point in Barangay Bigte around 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 19.

The vehicle was carrying six individuals with 50 packs of relief goods. Police said that some propaganda materials were also found inside the vehicle upon their inspection.

Año said the group “took advantage of the provision granted to food pass holders and violated physical distancing protocols with an attempt to organize mass gathering in the guise of relief efforts for the poor.”

“They were in violation of ECQ guidelines at the time when the entire country is struggling to contain the coronavirus to prevent further transmission. Ang ganitong mga paglabag ay hindi lamang taliwas sa batas ngunit isang banta sa kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan,” Año said.

Should the group violate the quarantine protocols again, the DILG chief said Anakpawis members will be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Now that they have posted bail, we hope that they will not do it again dahil hindi naman tayo magdadalawang-isip na dakpin silang muli,” he said.

He also warned that no one will be spared if they are found violating the quarantine guidelines set by the national government.

“The Anakpawis incident was a clear demonstration of how food pass can be exploited for malicious intents in the guise of relief operation for the poor. Sinabi na din po ng Department of Agriculture (DA) na hindi po maaaring gamitin ang food pass sa pamamahagi ng relief goods,” he adds.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier clarified that food pass cannot be used for relief operations as it is a privilege given to producers, suppliers and truckers that procure and deliver agri-fishery commodities and other food products to and from Manila and other provinces during the observance of the ECQ.

Following the Anakpawis incident, the DILG directed the Philippine National Police to be vigilant and always be on the lookout for unauthorized usage of food pass in all checkpoints.

“Walang pinipili ang mga manloloko at mga kriminal na ito, maging ang krisis na tulad ng COVID-19 kaya I urge the men and women of the PNP manning our checkpoints to be vigilant in checking food passes at tiyakin na ito ay hindi peke at hindi magagamit sa anumang iligal na aktibidad,”Año said.

“PNP’s consistent presence at checkpoints and their vigilance in counterchecking requisites such as the food pass and other permits can aid in ensuring that only permissible entities can pass through,” he added.

Nasino’s jail guards ‘acted with professionalism’ despite harassment from leftist groups – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday defended the personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) who escorted detained activist Reina Mae Nasino to the wake of her child, saying the jail officers “acted with professionalism, restraint, and integrity.”

In a statement, DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said jail officers remained professional despite the provocation, harassment and insults they faced from the crowd during the wake.

“The BJMP jail officers assigned to escort Nasino were insulted, harassed and verbally abused by Leftist groups aligned with Ms. Nasino. Truth be told, it was the Leftist groups who caused the tension during the wake when they suddenly vented their ire on the BJMP officers who were just doing their jobs,” Malaya said.

Malaya added that the group at the wake clearly intended to provoke the jail officers to “create a media spectacle, hog the headlines, and portray the BJMP and the government, by extension, as heartless and insensitive” to Nasino’s plight.

“What was supposed to be a solemn occasion for a mother to peacefully grieve the death of her daughter was intentionally turned into a media spectacle at the clear instigation of these Leftist groups,” he said.

“We commiserate and condole with Ms. Nasino and respect her right to grieve the death of her daughter. However, we condemn in the strongest terms the acts of these Leftist groups that placed the security of Ms. Nasino and the lives of our jail officers at risk,” he added.

Malaya also clarified that Nasino is not a “political prisoner” and that she is not being detained for her political beliefs, opinions, or for opposing the government.

“She is detained upon orders of the Regional Trial Court for criminal cases for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. That is a simple and undeniable fact,” he said.

Malaya also stressed that it was the court who set the conditions for her furlough, and since media interviews of the accused were not one of the privileges granted, therefore, it was not allowed. 

“It was the courts that denied their pleadings, who decided on the conditions for her furlough, and yet it is the BJMP that they are crucifying. The BJMP is simply obeying the orders of the court otherwise we will be the one who will be cited for contempt,” he said.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) previously said it will file cases against BJMP personnel over the tension that erupted during Nasino’s visit to the wake.

The NUPL said jail guards prevented Nasino from talking to the media.

Nasino’s child was laid to rest on Friday afternoon.

DILG hires and deploys over 26,000 contact tracers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 13, 2020

More than 26,000 contact tracers have been hired and deployed to various local government units in the country, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año assured that the department will be able to deploy 50,000 contact tracers across the country, as prescribed under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. The secretary said deployment may be completed by the end of the month.

“Even prior to the signing of the Bayanihan 2 Law, the DILG field offices were already preparing for the recruitment, hiring, and training of the new contact tracers. And now, a few weeks after the signing of the law, more than 26,000 have already been hired and deployed to the various provinces,” he said.

Based on the latest DILG data, 45% of the required target contact tracers in Luzon have already been hired; 69% for Visayas and 62% for Mindanao.

Año also assured that contact tracers will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies, and other necessary tools to ensure their safety.

The department has received over 62,000 applications for contact tracing jobs which, according to the DILG, is a manifestation that Filipinos are willing to help in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. AAC

DILG urges public, LGUs, business establishments to use Stay Safe App

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 12, 2020

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging the public, local government units (LGUs), and business establishments to use the Stay Safe App for contract tracing purposes.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the improved Staysafe.Ph digital contact tracing system can further boost the country’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The new and improved StaySafe app can be used by LGUs by accessing the heat map, contact tracer enrollment and deputization, and for cognitive contact tracing. It can also be used by individuals to report their health condition or to generate their own individual QR code which can be pre-filled before entering any building or establishment,” he said.

Business establishments can also use the app to generate a unique QR code and to use the digital logbook system so that they could do away with numerous contact tracing forms and documents.

Secretary Eduardo M. Año issued Memorandum Circular 2020-129 to urge all LGUs, business establishments, and the general public to access the system through the website www.staysafe.ph or by downloading the application on Google Play. AAC

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