MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned to file raps against local government units (LGU) that will fail to strictly enforce prohibition or limitation on mass gatherings under community quarantine classifications being enforced in the country.
The DILG issued the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to strictly enforce the face mask policy and other health protocols to curb the transmission of COVID-19.
“Local government units have a critical role in enforcing mass gathering regulations as they are nearer to their constituencies compared to the national government,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement on Sunday.
“What local chief executives (LCE) can do is to adopt and implement guidelines and policies of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as well as enact necessary local policies to support these regulations,” he added.
In line with the President’s directive to the DILG, Año issued DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2021-050 reminding all LCEs that they will be sanctioned if found violating any of the prohibitions contained under the IATF Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines with Amendments as of April 15, 2021, which provides for the prohibitions and limitations on public and mass gatherings.
Any violation of the prohibitions in the Omnibus Guidelines shall constitute non-cooperation of the person or entities which is punishable under Section 9 paragraph (d) or (e) of Republic Act No. 11332 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Failure on the part of local officials to enforce IATF resolutions may lead to charges filed against them for dereliction of duty based on Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code. Administrative sanctions may likewise be imposed on them under the Local Government Code.
“Maaaring administrative complaint or criminal case ang isampa laban sa pabayang LCEs. Hindi po gusto ng DILG na dumating sa puntong gawin ito kaya sana ipatupad nang maayos ng LGUs ang polisiya sa mass gatherings ayon sa quarantine classification sa kanilang lugar,” Año said.
The DILG chief also reminded all LGUs to exercise their power of supervision over their component LGUs.
“The LGU through its Sanggunian, at the instance of a concerned LCE, may hear any complaint for violation, misconduct, and/or dereliction of duty of lower LGU officials and impose sanctions as may be allowed by existing laws against an erring official,” he said.
Año has also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly enforce all applicable guidelines and policies of the IATF especially on the prohibition on mass gatherings.
“The PNP should assist LGUs in the enforcement of all policies, laws both national and local, relative to the curtailment of the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Citizens may also file complaints to their local DILG Regional Offices regarding the failure of their LGUs to implement mass gathering regulations by emailing or calling the nearest DILG Regional Office or field office or the DILG Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at email@example.com and telephone number (02) 8876-3454 local 881 to 884.
“Don’t hesitate to lodge your complaints through your local DILG ROs so that appropriate actions may be taken upon verification,” the DILG said.
Under the IATF Omnibus Guidelines as of April 15, 2021, gatherings outside residences and gatherings at residences are prohibited in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), and General Community Quarantine (GCQ), but allowed up to 50% of seating or venue capacity for areas under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
Gatherings for the provision of government services and authorized humanitarian activities are allowed in all areas under ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ.
Meanwhile, religious gatherings under ECQ are prohibited but religious services may be conducted through online video recording and transmission. Under MECQ, religious gatherings are allowed up to 10% but may be increased to 30% of seating capacity, subject to LGU regulations.
Under GCQ, it is allowed up to 30% but may be increased to 50% of seating capacity, subject to LGU regulations. In areas under MGCQ, it is allowed up to 50% of seating capacity, limited to religious worship or service and subject to LGU regulations.
Meanwhile, LGU-initiated gatherings in areas under ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ are limited to gatherings that are essential for the provision of health or government services or humanitarian activities and are subject to prior authorization from the appropriate government agency or instrumentality.
In areas under MGCQ it is allowed for any activity up to 50% of seating or venue capacity in compliance with ventilation standards set by the DOLE. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)