QC gov't: Organizers of community pantries, gatherings must notify LGU 5 days prior

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
QC gov't: Organizers of community pantries, gatherings must notify LGU 5 days prior
Photo presented to reporters at a press conference shows staff of Councilor Franz Pumaren taking photos as the latter enforces quarantine protocols at a feeding event he organized.

MANILA, Philippines — Organizers of any humanitarian gatherings, including community pantries, are now required to notify the Quezon City government at least five days in advance, the local government unit said. 

According to a new directive in the city's general community quarantine guidelines, gatherings for community service or humanitarian purposes "where people are reasonably expected to congregate" must inform the city Department of Public Order and Safety and provide details on their crowd control plan.

In a statement sent to reporters Wednesday afternoon, the Quezon City government said that these gatherings include medical missions, mass weddings, distribution of food and cash assistance, and the like.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte earlier said that the local government unit would not require community pantry organizers to secure permits. To recall, the country's first community pantry was set up along Maginhawa Avenue in the city. “In these difficult times, let’s allow kindness and selflessness to prevail,” Belmonte said then.

“We need to impose stricter measures to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of such incidents. We're putting to waste everything we've worked for if any gatherings happen that lead to the increase in infections,” Belmonte said Wednesday.

“Event organizers have the responsibility to provide appropriate crowd control measures to avoid excessive numbers of attendees and ensure proper physical distancing, such as through the use of marshals, stubs, coupons, and similar strategies,” the order reads.

RELATED: LIST: Local governments throw support behind community pantries


'Without fear or favor'

In case of violations of health protocols, the DPOS shall bring the matter to the Law and Order Cluster, including the Philippine National Police, for appropriate investigation and sanctions to be imposed if warranted.

“Anyone behind mass gatherings should answer for it if there are violations of health and safety protocols,” Belmonte said. 

Belmonte made the statement "following several superspreader events in Barangay Matandang Balara and Holy Spirit in the past weeks."

Though not explicitly mentioned in the statement, Belmonte's pronouncement comes after the local government cleared Councilor Franz Pumaren of any violations after the latter held a barangay feeding program that attracted 6,000 residents. 

The mayor's office issued a show-cause order to the councilor demanding an explanation for the program and citing "reports of violations of health and safety protocols." 

However, the Quezon City Police District said its investigation found that health protocols "were strictly implemented."

In the same statement, QCPD said that the organizers of actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin's community pantry were issued ordinance violation receipts for violating rules on minimum health protocols. 

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

Belmonte slams drinking sessions but allows hotel social events

The directive also states that gatherings of more than 10 persons shall be prohibited, except when indispensable for work, government or humanitarian purposes, though religious gatherings are exempted as they may occupy up to 50 percent of venue capacity.

Hotel function rooms and similar facilities for purposes of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, and other events may operate at 30% of venue capacity. However, if the event is for social purposes, venue capacity shall be 20% provided the facility complies with the Safety Seal program. 

"During these events, event organizers and venue owners/operators shall be responsible and may be held liable for exceeding the venue capacity or other health protocol violations, aside from the liability of the participants themselves," the statement issued by the city information office reads.

In a separate statement though, Belmonte denounced what she said was the "wanton disregard of the community’s welfare", saying she instructed the city’s law enforcement agencies to act against violators of ordinances and guidelines.

“We are doing our best to control our numbers and yet some individuals continue to violate our protocols. We do not condone this disastrous behavior and will immediately impose legal sanctions on all those involved,” Belmonte said. 

The law enforcement cluster of the city government together with barangay officials will now conduct foot patrols to monitor even alleys and inner roads, where people congregate for social activities such as drinking sessions.

“We encourage our residents to call out their neighbors and report these matters to us so that we can police these areas. It is our collective duty to stop the spread of this virus,” Belmonte said. 

READ: QC gov't warns residents of sanctions after pool party prompts community lockdown

Special concern lockdowns 

According to the city PIO, index cases in eight out of the 27 areas under granular or special concern lockdown were found to have been infected in drinking sessions within their areas. They then went on to contaminate community members in other superspreader events.

A drinking session and wedding in Brgy Matandang Balara for example yielded 69 confirmed cases with 25 still pending as of June 1.

“This is what we want to prevent - Covid 19 positive individuals infecting others in social gatherings without minimum health standards being observed. This is why we keep reminding people that gatherings such as inuman sessions are still strictly prohibited,” Belmonte said.

A total of 88 index cases have been confirmed in the following areas:

  • Del Mundo St. in Barangay Talipapa;
  • an area in K-10th St. in Barangay East Kamias;
  • an area in Harvard St. in Barangay E. Rodriquez;
  • Manggahan Citizen St., Interville III in Barangay San Agustin;
  • Area 5 in Barangay Capri;
  • Labordo Compound in Barangay Tandang Sora;
  • Area 7, Luzon Ave., in Barangay Matandang Balara;
  • and an area in Geronimo St., in Barangay Sta. Monica. 

Around 1,017 families are now under lockdown in SCL areas all of whom are undergoing swab testing. The city’s special concern lockdown areas decreased to as low as 16 on May 20, but have risen to 29 as of today.

To date, 1,240,716 coronavirus infections have been recorded in the Philippines. 


Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.


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