Año: Jinggoy Estrada violated 5 ECQ rules
MANILA, Philippines — For Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada violated several protocols under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when he conducted a relief drive on Sunday in the city where he used to be mayor.
In Monday’s Laging Handa briefing, Año said that Estrada’s arrest was justified because of at least five ECQ violations: no official coordination with authority from the San Juan City government for the distribution of relief goods; persons distributing goods with Estrada had no quarantine passes and were not authorized persons outside of residence, or APOR; nonobservance of social distancing; encouraging the elderly and minors to go outside their homes; and distributing milkfish without gloves.
LGU certification needed
He added that Estrada ignored a directive from the interior department that organizations conducting a relief drive must get a certification from local government units (LGUs).
If Estrada had a problem with the San Juan government, he should have coursed his donations through the Office of Civil Defense, Año said.
For Zamora, however, “the arrest of Mr. Jinggoy Estrada has nothing to do with politics in San Juan, but has everything to do with law and order. Especially so now that we are collectively fighting this global pandemic.”
In his first official statement on the incident, Zamora said that Estrada had crisscrossed the city, distributing milkfish in an “unsanitary manner” for several days, before he was picked up at Barangay Salapan by the city police.
The milkfish given by Estrada to residents in several villages had not been placed in plastic or any other form of packaging, “possibly adding to the spread of the virus,” according to Zamora. Video of the relief operation at Barangay Salapan confirmed this.
Estrada was released on Sunday night without any charges filed against him, but Col. Jaime Santos, San Juan police chief, insisted he had violated ECQ guidelines.
The police report on the incident said that Police Brig. Gen. Johnson Almazan, the highest-ranking official in the Eastern Police District, personally warned Estrada that he would be dealt with accordingly if he distributed goods again without a permit from the city government.
Estrada was a three-term mayor of San Juan. His daughter, Janella Ejercito Estrada, was the first in the family to fail to clinch the mayoralty after she was defeated by Zamora in 2019. The Estradas and Zamoras, twin pillars of San Juan politics, used to be allies before becoming rivals.
Interior department policy
Zamora said all individuals and organizations who wanted to conduct relief operations were required to secure a certification from LGUs—a policy that was put in place by the interior department, not the city.
“I am saddened by the fact that the former senator is not respecting the rule of law,” he said. “Being a former lawmaker himself, he is expected to be the first to abide by the laws of our country.”
He further noted that Janella herself had applied for a permit from the local government to run a mobile pharmacy, a request he approved the next day, on April 30.
After his release on Sunday night, Estrada told reporters he did not believe he had breached any ECQ protocol.
“This is local politics. The current administration of San Juan does not want us to help,” he said. “People are hungry, have no work, he should understand that.”
Estrada admitted that he did not have a permit, but argued that other groups and individuals had been donating relief goods without a permit as well and he was just singled out.
—With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade
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