DILG backs proposed community service as penalty for quarantine violators

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021   •   328

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday expressed support for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposal to impose community service instead of jail time as a penalty for those who violate quarantine protocols against COVID-19.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya issued the statement during the Laging Handa public briefing when asked about Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s suggestion.

Malaya, however, clarified that quarantine violators are not immediately arrested under the existing policy. He said violators are usually given a warning for the first offense and are asked to pay a fine for the second offense.

The DILG official also said that the local government units are the ones that set their own penalties for quarantine violations through local ordinances.

“Let me first say that our policy is not to go straight to arrests. In fact, most of the time, the first offense only yields a warning, and the second offense is usually a fine” Malaya said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“These penalties are within the scope of ordinances passed by cities and municipalities and signed by mayors. So, these are not controlled by the National Task Force of Inter-Agency Task Force,” he added. “Having said that, we support this initiative, and if our councilors are willing to amend their ordinances, that’s well and good. It might be better to have [violators] do community service instead.”

Guevara, in a Palace press briefing on Monday, said he has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force not to arrest or detain those who continue to violate quarantine protocols, and instead impose community service as a punishment.

The DOJ chief said the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act penalizes “non-cooperation” of persons identified as having a notifiable disease and those who are supposed to report it.

He, however, said that the law was not specific when it came to actual violations.

“Yung statutes like Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases, meron doong provision on non-cooperation, but you know medyo hindi siya shoot na shoot eh, hindi sya talagang very exact to the actual violation,” he said.

“I also recommend that in the enforcement, the stricter enforcement of the ordinances, that LGUs consider the possibility of imposing na lamang the penalty of community service for those who will continue to violate our ordinances rather than imprison or rather than putting them in jail or fining them, eh kasi talaga ngang mahirap na ang buhay sa ECQ,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

DOJ, DILG crafting guidelines for Duterte order to detain people improperly wearing face masks

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are crafting guidelines for the latest order of President Rodrigo Duterte to detain those who are improperly wearing face masks in public, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the guidelines will include details on the booking and detention processes, as well as the investigation and the filing of charges against those who will be apprehended.

The DOJ chief, however, stressed that Duterte’s order takes effect immediately even if the guidelines are still being formulated.

“The President’s directive takes effect immediately even without the guidelines. Existing laws and ordinances define the prohibited acts and impose the corresponding penalties therefore, and the relevant rules of court govern the procedure,” Guevarra said.

He also advised the public to wear face masks properly and to follow the law to avoid being detained.

“The best way to avoid being arrested while the guidelines are being formulated is to wear a face mask and obey the law,” he said.

On Wednesday, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to impose a stricter mask mandate to stem the spread of COVID-19 that mostly affected urban centers.

DILG to discuss with LGUs, PNP parameters of Duterte’s new order to arrest mask violators

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (May 5) ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest people who are not wearing their face mask properly in public.

President Duterte made the order during his pre-recorded address after noting that some people mindlessly don a face mask just so they can comply with the protocol.

“Itong mask, ‘yung iba, for compliance lang. Naglalagay ng mask pero nakalabas ‘yung ilong. I-detain mo tapos imbestigahan mo siya kung bakit ganoon ang behavior,“ he told the PNP adding that he has to be strict to curb COVID-19 transmission.

“Kapag hindi ko higpitan, walang mangyayari. Iyan nga, for compliance lang kayo,” he added.

In an interview following Duterte’s announcement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they still have to discuss the new directive with the PNP.

“I think the President was serious. We will have to sit down with the Philippine National Police [..] to determine the parameters of the presidential directive. And we have to reconcile this with the various ordinances that were issued by the LGUs,” Malaya noted.

“I must emphasize that what people are violating here are local ordinances that were issued by the local sanggunian. We will take a look on how we can implement this directive of the President,” he added.

As for the quarantine violations, Malaya stressed that the IATF resolution is implemented through ordinances passed by the local government units. The penalty for a specific violation would depend on each LGU.

“So we may have to talk with the LGUs and of course the Philippine National Police,” Malaya said.

Malaya emphasized that it is the responsibility of the local chief executives and barangay officials to implement all minimum health standards in their respective jurisdictions.

DILG expects 1,000 newly hired contact tracers to start working this week

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has confirmed that around 1,000 newly hired contact tracers are expected to start work this week.

“We expect siguro by this week mayroon nang magsisimula na magtrabaho sa contact tracers, around 1,000 ay makakatapos na ng kanilang training na isasagawa ng DILG at the Local Government Academy,” DILG Spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Monday (May 3).

Malaya added that so far, they have already assessed the applications of more than 2,000 out of over 10,000 applicants for the job.

“Doon sa 5,754 na ide-deploy natin sa NCR ay 2,696 na po ang na-assess natin, at more than 10,000 po ang nag-apply,” he noted.

The contact tracers may renew their contract after three months if they wish to continue with the job.

The official added that the salary of the newly hired contact tracers will be funded by the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (DOLE-TUPAD).

The program has allotted around P280 million for the three months’ salary of 5,754 contract tracers at P537/day which is the minimum wage rate at the National Capital Region under its TUPAD program.

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