CABINET Secretary Karlo Nograles on Monday warned local government officials against abusing their authority amid reports that some barangay officials have been collecting fees or selling quarantine passes that would enable their constituents to go out of their homes during the Luzon-wide lockdown.
Nograles, during the “Laging Handa” public forum, said the maximum penalty will be imposed on erring officials.
He reiterated the quarantine passes are free based on guidelines issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“Hindi pwedeng gumawa ng ganiyang klaseng mga pango-ngotong or pang-aabuso po… So, kung mayroon pong pang-aabuso lalong-lalo na pagdating sa mga LGUs or sa barangay hindi umano, iyong DILG at ang PNP na po ang bahala po diyan (No one should not engage in such extortion or abuse of power… If there are such abuses, especially among the LGUs or allegedly the barangays, the DILG and the PNP will be on top of that),” said Nograles, concurrent spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“Huwag po nating abusuhin iyan at huwag po tayong mag-take advantage sa calamity na ‘to dahil po maaari ‘yung maximum penalty pa po ang maaaring isampa po sa inyo (Let us not abuse the powers and do not take advantage of this calamity because you will be slapped with the maximum penalty),” he added.
Nograles cited reports about barangay officials from Taguig City, who were reprimanded by authorities allegedly after charging P50 for the quarantine pass distributed to residents in their area of jurisdiction.
Nograles allayed public concerns over some supermarkets and drug stores that have reportedly refuse entry to consumers if they are not wearing face masks.
He said the only rules the IATF implemented is the observance of social distancing. “Our only guideline, our only rule is to observe social distancing in the supermarkets. So let us follow that,” he said.
He added that supermarkets should determine how many people to allow inside their establishments at any given time, taking into consideration compliance with the social distancing rule and giving the public the chance to buy their supplies.
Nograles reminded law enforcers that medical and health workers are exempted from the work stoppage order, and that they should be allowed mobility within the lockdown areas even without special accreditation identification cards being issued by the government.
He said medical and health workers simply need to present their company or hospital IDs to be able to go to their work or places of services.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, recognized anew the sacrifices and contributions of health frontliners amid reports that three physicians have succumbed to COVID-19.
“Let us join hands in solemn prayers for our health frontliners who daily put their lives on the line as they treat those who have the virus. Three of our doctors have died and a number of them in critical condition due to the corona virus. An increasing number of Filipinos are succumbing to the deadly disease. We must all take care of ourselves because in doing so we take care of others,” Panelo said.