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DILG chief has a reminder to ‘overacting’ local officials

/ 05:36 AM April 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The home affairs chief on Wednesday reminded local officials that local lockdowns must be approved by the temporary government body that oversees the Duterte administration’s response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

In an online meeting with Luzon governors and mayors, Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said local steps to fight SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes the severe respiratory disease COVID-19, must be in accordance with the pandemic response law, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and that local officials must make sure they were not “overdoing or overacting” when they made decisions that affected the public.

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Sampaloc ‘hard lockdown’

Año stressed that the declaration of quarantine measures in entire provinces or cities fell under the authority of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and that local officials who wanted to put certain areas on lockdown must have clearance from the task force.

Last week, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso placed the entire district of Sampaloc on “hard lockdown” for 48 hours for having the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city. He shut all businesses, except drugstores and funeral homes, and ordered the residents to stay home and suspected virus carriers to undergo tests.

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Domagoso, however, has not published the achievements of the lockdown. But he has announced plans to place Tondo District 1 on “hard lockdown for 48 hours starting 8 p.m. Thursday,” citing increasing coronavirus cases and rampant violations of quarantine measures in the locality. (See related story in Metro, Page A8.)Año said the task force first conducted intensive studies before making recommendations based on scientific findings for locking down any locality.

Don’t act alone

“What we do not want to happen are indiscriminate [lockdown] declarations [that] are not coordinated with the national government. Those create problems, issues and concerns affecting the daily lives of our countrymen,” he said.

He said local officials should not act independently.

“What angers the President is when some [local governments] overdo or overreact [to] measures when they can easily coordinate with the [task force],” Año said, adding that there should always be balance between public health and the economy.

He, however, commended the local officials for their efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus in their provinces and cities.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, DILG, Eduardo Año, local lockdowns
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