The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday called on private groups anew to coordinate with local government units before conducting relief operations amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“First and foremost, the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and the DILG have released guidelines that all those who will hold relief operations should be authorized. Meaning to say, it must be coordinated with LGUs and they have a certification from the LGUs because the LGUs should be in charge, so that they know who have already received aid and who are yet to receive aid,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a Laging Handa briefing aired on state-run PTV-4.
His remarks came after former senator Jinggoy Estrada was arrested by the police on Sunday afternoon for alleged violation of quarantine protocols in holding a relief drive in San Juan City.
He said all relief operations should be properly coordinated with LGUs before the relief items are distributed at the community level or they can coordinate also with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
“Dapat nag-coordinate sa LGU. Kung kaaway naman ‘yung LGU, nandyan naman yung OCD. Ibigay mo yung gusto mong ipamigay dun, kung saan ang intensyon mo (They should coordinate with the LGUs. If they are not in good terms with LGU, OCD is there. Give it to them and let them know where you want to give it). Let OCD do its job, kasi may mga ahensya sa ilalim iyan (it has attached agencies),” he noted.
He added that they have received reports where some groups were caught with unauthorized placards showing that they are volunteer organizations while some violate the government’s “stay at home” and “social distancing” policies of the government and do not have permits from the LGUs.
Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said that no charges have been filed against Estrada.
“(Former) Senator Jinggoy Estrada was just given a stern warning to coordinate with the LGU if he will distribute food or relief aid and comply with social distancing measures under the ECQ,” Banac said in a statement.
He added that no one among those who received aid from Estrada was charged.
Banac, however, said the PNP will implement maximum tolerance in the remaining days of the ECQ in Metro Manila and some areas.
On Sunday afternoon, Estrada was arrested while distributing relief goods along A. Luna corner J. Ruiz street in Barangay Salapan.
Around 7:30 p.m. on the same day, Estrada was released after explaining his side to Eastern Police District (EPD) Director, Brig. Gen. Johnson Almazan.
Although he was in full personal protective equipment and social distancing have been strictly observed during the distribution, Estrada admitted that he does not have a permit to conduct a relief operation.
In a television interview on Monday morning, Estrada accused San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora of “political harassment” over the issue.
Zamora, however, belied the allegation adding that he issued a permit allowing Janella Estrada, the former senator’s daughter, and his former rival in last year’s mid-term elections to hold a distribution of free medicines on April 29.
Meanwhile, Malacañang is leaving it to the San Juan City government to enforce their own protocols under the ECQ should there be any violators.
“Pinapaubaya na po namin iyan sa mga nag-e-enforce ng ECQ diyan po sa San Juan (We are leaving to the ones enforcing the ECQ there in San Juan),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser on Monday.
Roque stood by the PNP’s “stern warning” issued against Estrada.
“Sang-ayon sa PNP ay binigyan po ng stern warning si dating senador Estrada (According to PNP, former Senator Estrada was given a stern warning) – we leave it at that,” he said.
Roque, also urged everyone to set aside politics amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Ang panawagan po ng Presidente sa buong sambayanan ay isantabi po muna natin ang pulitika habang nandito iyong krisis sa Covid-19 (The President is calling on the public to set aside politics while there is an ongoing health crisis),” he said. (With reports from Azer Parrocha/PNA)