DILG warns of charges against cops accepting gifts

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019   •   827

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday threatened to file charges against police officers who will accept or solicit gifts from the public in relation to their official duties.

“As a matter of policy, employees under the DILG, including police officers, will be held criminally and administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts of monetary value from people they serve or transact with in relation to their official functions,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Año said such policy is stated in the National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002 which penalizes the act of soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift of monetary value or the act of receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of official duties in expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment.

The DILG chief made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte made a remark last week saying there is nothing wrong with receiving rewards if it was done out of gratitude and generosity.

Año acknowledged the president’s remark as stated in Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices act, but he emphasized that these gifts are only acceptable if these are small or of insignificant value or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship.

“Our laws are not unmindful of the Filipino culture of showing their appreciation towards those who help us, including public servants. It is in this context that the President’s statement must be appreciated as explained by the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,” he said.

The DILG chief said that although an exception is provided for in the law, he still reminded police officers and other government workers that their “services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes.”

“Therefore, gifts received in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of the law,” he said.

He added that it has been the practice of his office to send back to the sender or refuse gifts from local government officials or other functionaries.

Año also assured that the DILG will be relentless in its pursuit to build a corruption-free police organization that is “worthy of the trust and confidence of the Filipino people.”

Tourism dept. backs DILG move to streamline travel requirements

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has expressed its support for the move of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to streamline the travel procedures and requirements being imposed by local government units (LGU).

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said her department has long been advocating for the “simplification of travel requirement as this is critical in making domestic tourism work.”

Citing a survey conducted from November 28 to December 30, 2020, Puyat said that 81 percent of respondents consider the varying LGU requirements as the factor that makes travel most inconvenient.

The survey was conducted by the DOT in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines.

Among the common travel requirements being imposed by the LGUs are the medical certificate, other types of pre-travel or test-on-arrival COVID tests and quarantine.  

At the destinations, some rules that need to be standardized are those that relate to RT-PCR for children/infant, rooming or capacity limits and age restrictions vis-à-vis inter- and intra-regional movement of domestic tourists, the DOT said.

“Streamlining entry requirements will make travelling in the new normal more convenient while also protecting the public’s safety and well-being,” Puyat said.

“Furthermore, this will also help in preventing the entry of those who falsify documents by standardizing validation protocols,” she added.

The DILG earlier expressed support for proposals to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) classification to “harmonize” regulations being implemented by LGUs.

DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said there is a need to remove “redundancies” and impose less stringent requirements for domestic tourist travel, while managing health risks at the same time.

He, however, emphasized that the less restrictive quarantine classification would not mean abandoning health protocols but simply streamlining regulations to bring back jobs and revive the economy battered by the pandemic.

The DILG said works on streamlining regulations for domestic travel are ongoing to encourage tourism and revive the sector, as well as the country’s economy in general.

DILG orders PNP to arrest sellers of fake COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest individuals who are selling or administering fake vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The DILG issued the warning following reports that fake COVID-19 vaccines are being circulated in the market amid an increase in demand and preparations for the rollout of the vaccination program in the country.

DILG officer-in-charge and Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. said the PNP and the local government units must be on top of the hunt and arrest peddlers of bogus vaccines.

“Some people are taking advantage of the pandemic to make money by selling fake vaccines. I am directing the PNP to arrest these criminals and ensure that these bogus vaccines are taken off the market,” Florece said in a statement.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto earlier expressed alarm over the supposed sale of fake vaccines.

In his Twitter account, Sotto posted a photo of the alleged bogus Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines with a warning to the public not to purchase them.

Florece said the PNP should work double time to ensure that no fake vaccines are sold to the public as part of its task to secure COVID-19 vaccines.

He also directed the PNP Aviation Security Group and Maritime Group to enhance their monitoring of the country’s air and sea ports to prevent the entry of these items.

“Nauna na nating ipinaalala ang pagtutulungan ng PNP at mga LGU sa pag-secure ng mga bakuna but the two must also collaborate to ensure that fake vaccines are confiscated and those responsible arrested and charged,” he said.

Florece also urged the public not to buy these vaccines and immediately report these sellers to authorities.

“Huwag po kayong magpapaloko. Tanging sa pamahalaan lamang po dadaan ang mga lehitimong bakuna at maliban dito ay ireport ninyo po ang mga nagbebenta at nagtuturok ng mga pekeng COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.


LGUs urged to support COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Robie de Guzman   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) to support the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) solidarity trial for COVID-19 vaccine and other independent vaccine trials.

The DILG said that this in line with the memorandum of agreement between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and DILG on the zoning and implementation of vaccine trials where all cities in Metro Manila, including the municipality of Pateros, Davao City, and the provinces of Cebu and Cavite have been identified as areas of implementation for vaccine trials.

According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, vaccine recipients for the WHO Solidarity Trial will be recruited from the top 5 to 10 barangays with high COVID-19 cases identified by the Department of Health-Bureau of Epidemiology (DOH-EB).

Malaya stressed that coordination with LGUs, especially at the barangay level, is vital in the success of the vaccine clinical trials.

“We need the full support of our LGUs since trial sites will be at the barangay level and randomization will be by households. The household census will also be obtained from the barangays to ensure follow up,” he said in a statement.

Malaya clarified that the vaccine solidarity trials are different from the government’s vaccination program, as the trials are for candidate vaccines to test their efficacy and safety while the national vaccination program are for vaccines that are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The DILG said some 15,000 volunteers aged 18 to 59 years will be involved the country’s WHO solidarity trials, which is a global effort to evaluate the safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines which are not yet approved by the FDA.

Independent clinical trials by private vaccine companies may also be assigned trial zones to ensure equal and rational distribution to avoid competition in subject recruitment.

In Memorandum Circular No. 2021-011, DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. urged identified LGUs to provide logistic support or other non-monetary assistance needed by the project teams through transportation of potential participants to the trial sites for screening, vaccination, and scheduled follow-up visit.

LGUs are also enjoined to assist in locating participants who do not come to the trial site for the scheduled visit and bringing participants to the hospital site in the event of an exposure to or presentation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or the development of adverse reactions.

Local government units are likewise encouraged to assist, in coordination with the project team, in organizing meetings related to the clinical trials such as the orientation of potential participants.

“Inaasahan po namin ang inyong buong suporta at pakikiisa upang maging matagumpay ang mga vaccine trials sa ating bansa. Ipakita po natin ang tunay na diwa ng bayanihan sa ating patuloy na pagtugon sa pandemiyang ito,” Malaya said.

For monitoring purposes, the DILG has directed all its concerned regional offices to submit monthly situation reports regarding the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine trials in their respective areas of jurisdiction to the DILG Central Office through the Bureau of Local Government Development.

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