PROMPTED by the viral video of a barangay (village) staff insisting that “lugaw” (rice porridge) is “not essential,” the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is reviewing lockdown guidelines on what are considered as essential food and services, and travel, and who should be included in the list of essential workers permitted to leave their homes while NCR Plus bubble areas remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Bernardo Florece, DILG officer-in-charge, said the department will come up with a clearer
definition of the word “essential” and translate to Filipino/Tagalog the English provisions included in the numerous resolutions previously issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Pointing out that “the provisions on essential travel, essential workers and essential food and service remain the same,” Florece said: “Siguro ang dapat na lang namin gawin ay baka kailangan naming i-translate ito sa Tagalog siguro or sa local dialect (Maybe, what we need to do is to translate these to Tagalog or in the local dialects of the provinces.)
The DILG’s move comes following the controversy generated by the viral video of a barangay official from Bulacan province who prevented a delivery rider from bringing the lugaw or rice porridge that a resident had ordered from an eatery.
A fellow delivery rider recorded the incident and uploaded it on social media platform Facebook.
In the video, barangay official who was later identified as Pez Raymundo, was seen repeatedly telling the delivery man that lugaw is not an essential food because people can survive without eating rice porridge.
The incident earned thousands of comments, and has made the hashtag #lugawisessential as among the most used hashtags in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in recent days.
Interior undersecretary for operations Epimaco Densing III had taken advantage of the incident to take a shot at Vice President Leni Robredo, whose political supporters sold lugaw to raise funds to support her campaign during the 2016 elections.
Malacañang and DILG officials have also jumped on the issue, with presidential spokesman Harry Roque saying that lugar/rice porridge is essential and that the delivery driver should have been allowed entry to the barangay because he was an essential worker. He also pointed out that food deliveries are allowed 24 hours.
Raymundo has since apologized to the public and to delivery driver Marvin Ignacio for her mistake. She said was tired at the time of the incident from manning the checkpoint that was put up to implement the uniform 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew hours in the National Capital Region and the four provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
Florece said translating the English provisions in the IATF resolution will allow enforcers to better understand them.
“If we are going to allow them (barangay leaders) to translate the provisions, it may lead to other interpretations. So that is what we are going to do,” Florece said on the need to translate the IATF guidelines.