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DILG warns local execs collecting fees for passes, food stubs

The Department of the Interior and Local Government  on Saturday warned local government unit (LGU) and barangay officials who are allegedly taking advantage of the enhanced community quarantine to raise funds or for personal gains.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that if proven to have engaged in illegal acts, LGU and barangay officials will "certainly be suspended or placed behind bars as their despicable act in a time of a public health emergency is unbecoming of a government official and goes against the tenets of public service."

"Mahiya kayo sa mga balat ninyo. Sisiguraduhin ko na makukulong ang mga abusadong ‘yan na nakuha pang manloko ng mga kababayan nila sa panahon ng krisis na tulad nito. You are expected to help your people not cause them more sufferings," Año said.

The DILG chief noted that his office has been receiving reports that some barangay officials are issuing quarantine passes and selling them to their constituents.

Some have also set up checkpoints in roads and highways and stopping cargoes and food deliveries from passing through if without barangay-issued passes.

Likewise, Ano said some reports pointed out barangay officials charging fees for food stubs and gate passes, which will give citizens access to go in and out of their homes and barangays to purchase basic commodities.

"We will impose the law. Wala po kaming kikilingan kahit mayor ka pa o kapitan ng barangay basta napatunayang ikaw ay may sala in proper due process, mananagot ka," Año said.

Then DILG chief said that no barangay official has the authority to stop the movement of cargo or the delivery of food and other essential supplies in any part of the country.

He said that if the barangay needs fund to address the COVID crisis, they should seek the help of their mayor or governor and not charge their constituents.

Also, Año said they have set up the DILG Emergency Operations Center hotlines that people can call if they wish to complain about local officials who are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.

Two punong barangays were recently reprimanded in Taguig City following complaints from residents that they were charging P50 to allow people to leave their barangays, according to the DILG.

Meanwhile, Año also emphasized the need for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the barangay officials to practice respect for human rights in the implementation of enhanced community quarantine, especially during curfew hours.

He ordered the local chief executives to ensure that no human rights will be violated.

He urged people to call the DILG Emergency Operations Center hotlines 02-8876-3454 local 8806/8810 or 02-8925-0343 for any complaints against local officials on the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine against COVID.  —Ted Cordero/LBG, GMA News