DILG warns of charges vs. mayors who defy community quarantine rules

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — The Interior Department issued a stern warning to Metro Manila officials who violate and challenge the national government's guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine.

Interior Department spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said if local government officials defy the rules, such as non-observance of social distancing reminders, they will be slapped with gross negligence or insubordination charges.

"Nakikiusap kami sa mayors at barangay officials na huwag na sana tayo makarating sa punto na magsasampa pa ang DILG ng kaso," he said during a Laging Handa briefing.

[Translation: We are appealing to the mayors and barangay officials, I hope we do not reach the point that the DILG has to file charges against you.]

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte's order to stop all forms of mass transit, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Tuesday ordered the limited mobilization of tricycles in the city to help bring health workers and patients with urgent needs to hospitals. On Wednesday, he once again appealed to the national government to give some consideration and relax transportation limitations for the sake of public health and safety. He said tricycles can only carry a maximum of two passengers.

But the Duterte administration is not willing to bend the rules for Pasig City.

Malaya said Sotto should explore other options, similar to what other LGUs are implementing, such as borrowing buses from private companies to ferry health workers. He even said that based on their monitoring, nonessential workers are availing of the tricycle service in the city in a time when travel should be prohibited.

"Ang hindi ko maintindihan, kung nagagawan ng paraan ng ibang LGU na makagawa ng sistema ng paghahatid ng health workers, bakit hindi magawa ng Pasig? Pasensya na po, Mayor, hindi po namin kayo pwede pagbigyan... If we give an exemption, it defeats the purpose of a quarantine," he said.

[Translation: If other LGUs can find ways to bring around the health workers, why can't Pasig do it. Sorry, Mayor, we cannot grant your request. If we grant an exemption, it defeats the purpose of a quarantine.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier said the use of tricycles violates the rule to maintain at least one meter of distance from other people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

Malaya asked the neophyte politician to follow all the rules of the nearly month-long enhanced community quarantine implemented in Luzon.

"Ito ay hindi lang naman ito ay utos ng Pangulo, ito po ay para sa kapakanan ng inyong constituents. Sana ay gawin natin ito as part of public service. Dito masusubukan ang galing ng ating local government officials," he said.

[Translation: This is not just to follow the President's orders, but this is for the well-being of your constituents. Follow the rules as part of public service. This will be the test of the excellence of local government officials.]

Pasig City offered the free rental of bikes and free shuttle service to frontline personnel and health workers.