DOJ reiterates law enforcers should not interfere with community pantries
Aileen Cerrudo • April 20, 2021 • 336
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reiterated that law enforcement agents should not interfere with anyone doing good deeds which include setting up community pantries.
In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a law enforcer should also not question individuals involved in community pantries unless they are violating laws.
“Suffice it to say that a person voluntarily doing an act of kindness and compassion toward his neighbor should be left alone,” he said.
“It is not proper for law enforcement agents to interrogate him unless there is reason to believe that he is violating any law, ordinance, rule, or regulation for the good or welfare of the community,” he added.
However, Guevarra refused to comment if police authorities violated the privacy act in gathering information about the organizers of community pantries. He also clarified that organizers are not required to fill out forms.
“Organizers of community pantries have no legal duty or are under any compulsion to fill out any forms, as these are not considered business, much less illegal activities,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are crafting guidelines for the latest order of President Rodrigo Duterte to detain those who are improperly wearing face masks in public, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.
In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the guidelines will include details on the booking and detention processes, as well as the investigation and the filing of charges against those who will be apprehended.
The DOJ chief, however, stressed that Duterte’s order takes effect immediately even if the guidelines are still being formulated.
“The President’s directive takes effect immediately even without the guidelines. Existing laws and ordinances define the prohibited acts and impose the corresponding penalties therefore, and the relevant rules of court govern the procedure,” Guevarra said.
He also advised the public to wear face masks properly and to follow the law to avoid being detained.
“The best way to avoid being arrested while the guidelines are being formulated is to wear a face mask and obey the law,” he said.
On Wednesday, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to impose a stricter mask mandate to stem the spread of COVID-19 that mostly affected urban centers.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interiors and Local Government (DILG) announced the official guidelines for the conduct of community pantries in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Ayon po sa inyong pag-uutos, gumawa po kami ng guidelines kung paano po ipapatupad itong community pantry sapagkat itong community pantry ay isa sa pwedeng maging dahilan sa pagsimula ng surge o ng spike,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año told the president during Wednesday’s public briefing.
During his report, Año enumerated the salient points in conducting a community pantry.
Firstly, organizers need not secure a permit prior to setting up a community pantry as this will only be an additional burden to them.
“Kailangan ang masusing koordinasyon sa lahat ng LGU, sapagkat kailangan compliant sa batas at ordinansa ang lahat ng organizers,” Año said.
Secondly, illegal items such as alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are not allowed in community pantries.
“Walang illegal na bagay at harmful items, kasama ang alcohol at cigarettes na ipapamahagi rito sa community pantry,” the official noted.
Thirdly, minimum health standards must be observed at all times. Violation of the standard health protocols are considered as strong grounds for the termination of the community pantry as this can cause a surge or spike in COVID-19 cases.
Fourthly, organizers and the LGU are not allowed to collect any fee whatsoever for any item in the pantry.
Año specified the important role that the LGU takes during the conduct of a community pantry.
He said, it is the LGU that would determine the venue of the community pantry to ensure it is set up in areas where most indigents reside.
The LGU will also be the one to link the organizers to potential suppliers of goods in support of local producers and at the same time contribute to the LGU’s economy.
One important task for the LGU is maintaining peace and order throughout the conduct of the community pantry because organizers might not be able to handle the possible surge of people.
Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the barangay tanod and other officials as well as volunteers must be tapped for crowd control.
Fifthly, Año said organizers must establish a system for reaching members of the vulnerable sector, specifically the senior citizens and persons with comorbidity who are not allowed to go outdoors.
“Ang gusto po natin dito ay talagang localized ito na kung saang barangay gagawin ay doon lang magbabandilyo,” he said.
“Hindi na kailangang may mga taong dadagsa galing sa ibang lugar. Kaya kailanhgan ay umiikot itong ating community pantry,” he added, citing the incident in Barangay Holy Spirit where actress Angel Locsin announced her community pantry on social media and consequently drawing even people from other barangays to flock to the venue breaching health protocols.
Lastly, “epals” are not allowed. This means no signage, billboard, or poster bearing the name and picture of the organizer, any politician or government officials shall be posted in community pantries.
The DILG secretary said they will send an advisory or a memorandum to the LGUs regarding the guidelines.
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Government has tested four individuals who lined up during actress Angel Locsin’s community pantry.
According to the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) Chief Dr. Rolando Cruz, three of the individuals were not showing any symptoms connected to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while the other one was experiencing headache, loss of smell, and loss of taste.
“Today is the fifth day since Ms. Locsin’s event. The average incubation period for COVID-19 is approximately five days. So we call on everyone who went to last Friday’s gathering, please report to us and have yourself tested. If there was a transmission and you were exposed, you may observe some symptoms manifesting starting today,” he said.
Since Friday, Cruz said, the CESU has been receiving an average of 950 swab test requests daily while around 600 per day were approved or conducted.
He also reminded that residents who wish to get tested for the virus can sign up for an appointment through QC Contact Tracing Hotlines: 8703-2759, 8703-4398, 0916-122-8628, 0908-639-8086, and 0931-095-7737. –AAC
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