Iloilo lawmaker, fire chief face sanction for COVID breach
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Iloilo City Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda and the fire marshal of Western Visayas will be required to render community service for violating a ban on mass gatherings.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said on Sunday that he had approved the recommendation of the city legal office to direct, among others, Baronda and Senior Supt. Jerry Candido, Western Visayas director of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), to render community service.
Treñas said the order was being finalized and would be released this week.
The mayor said he had “no choice” but to impose the sanctions.
“No similar gathering from any government [agency] will happen again [in Iloilo City] under MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine),” Treñas said.
Candido and Baronda have both publicly apologized for their lapse and have declared willingness to face sanctions.
City legal officer Edgardo Gil, in his recommendation, said all those who attended the blessing and inauguration ceremony of a fire substation in Alta Tierra Village in Jaro District in this city on June 10 violated the ban on unauthorized mass gatherings.
He said that under MECQ guidelines and an executive order issued by Treñas, movement of persons were limited to accessing goods and services from establishments permitted to operate.
The community service may be in the form of but not limited to cleanup drives, tending of plants, tree planting, community kitchen and other activities, according to Gil.
He also recommended that the COVID-19 compliance team monitor the compliance of the rendering of community service.
‘Lapse in judgment’
Gatherings outside of residences are also prohibited except those “essential for provision of health services, government services and humanitarian activities authorized by appropriate government agencies and instrumentalities.”
Gil said the BFP regional office failed to present proof that the activity was among those considered essential based on authorization either issued by the Iloilo City government or any other government agency.
Iloilo City has been under MECQ since June 23 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and shortage of COVID-19 hospital beds.
A ban on nonessential mass gatherings is among the heightened restrictions.
Baronda earlier said in public statements that she had assumed that the activity was among those authorized as an essential activity. She apologized for what she said was a “lapse in judgment.”
Candido, in radio interviews, admitted that he had not received a copy of the executive order of Treñas prohibiting mass gatherings and he had considered the BFP activity as an essential gathering.
But he said this was not an excuse and is accepting responsibility for his actions. ]
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