Eight barangay captains charged over 'lax' enforcement in mass gatherings
This April 26, 2020 photo shows residents queuing at Trabajo Market in Manila.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

Eight barangay captains charged over 'lax' enforcement in mass gatherings

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 10, 2021 - 3:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government is charging eight barangay captains for what it said was their lax implementation of quarantine protocols in superspreader events that led to coronavirus transmission in their localities. 

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that the cases were in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier directives to hold barangay officials accountable for sleeping on violations of health protocols in their jurisdictions. 

"This is a reminder to the leaders of our barangays that we are serious in our campaign against the pandemic. We will not turn a blind eye on (sic.) this negligence if it makes the coronavirus situation worse," he said in Filipino. 

The eight local chief executives are:

  1. Romeo Rivera of Barangay 171, District II, Caloocan City;
  2. Ernan Perez of Barangay San Jose, Navotas City;
  3. Facipico Jeronimo and
  4. Jaime Laurente of Barangays 181 and 182 of Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila;
  5. Marcial Lucas Palad of Barangay Matiktik, Norzagaray, Bulacan;
  6. Jason Talipan and
  7. Jimmy Solano of Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island and Barangay Sambiray, Malay, Aklan;
  8. and, Jessica Cadungong of Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City

They face varying counts of gross neglect of duty, negligence, serious misconduct, and violation of the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. 

Among the eight captains are the executives responsible for the Gubat sa Ciudad swimming incident, the viral boxing matches in Tondo, and the parties in Cebu City. 

Rivera of Barangay 171 in Caloocan City remains on a 60-day preventive suspension.

READ: Complaint filed against barangay captain for Caloocan resort gathering

Violations of minimum health standards 

Interior Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also said that more than 64,000 recorded community health protocol violations were registered from May 31 to June 6, 2021.

Of which, 50,021 were cases of non-compliance to wearing face masks in public places at all times, leading to:

  • 28,087 warnings;
  • 17,395 fines;
  • 3,413 who were asked to undergo community service
  • 1,126 who were arrested for regular filing of cases and inquest proceedings.

Malaya added that there were 13,882 reported violations of physical distancing and 613 recorded cases of conduct of mass gatherings.

“These are still huge numbers considering that we are in this COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year now. We will not tire of apprehending violators of health standards,” Malaya said.

Despite the government's supposedly strong stance against what it says are "stubborn" citizens and local government executives, others in higher positions of government have not been charged for earlier quarantine violations. 

Quezon City Councilor Franz Pumaren, for instance, was cleared by the Quezon City Police District over a barangay feeding program that attracted some 6,000 residents where "no contact tracing was done, and no list of the attendees' names was taken." 

Although acknowledging the event turned out to be a super spreader, Mayor Joy Belmonte later reasoned that health protocols were implemented and it could not have been the councilor's fault that the sudden rain caused the crowd to disperse.

READ: QCPD finds no health protocol violations in barangay feeding program

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