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On Mayor Sara allowing tricycles in Davao: IATF says LGUs outside Luzon free to have own quarantine measures

Local government units outside Luzon are allowed to implement quarantine measures as they see fit amid the COVID-19 pandemic as long as these are compliant with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday. 

Nograles made the position in response to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Executive Order 23 which placed Davao City under enhanced community quarantine and allowed tricycles to ply the roads to serve essential sector workers, front liners and residents buying essential needs. Tricycle drivers, however, have to observe social distancing.

Previously, Nograles and Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya reprimanded Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for the same action, saying that social distancing cannot be observed in tricycles. They also said the use of tricycles violates the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on March 16 providing guidelines on enhanced community quarantine which bans mass transport, including tricycles.

“Sa labas po ng enhanced community quarantine sa Luzon, binibigyan po natin ng palugit o freedom ang iba’t ibang local government units, gamit ang guidelines ng IATF, kung kelan sila puwede mag [implement ng] community quarantine roon sa kani-kanilang lugar,” Nograles said in a press conference.

“Ganunpaman, tuloy-tuloy naman po ang pakikipagugnayan ng DILG sa lahat ng LGUs, maging sa Visayas at Mindanao,” Nograles added.

In placing Davao City under enhanced community quarantine from April 4 to April 19 unless further extended or sooner withdrawn, Mayor Sara—daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte—argued that such measure is necessary to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in Davao City. 

In the same Executive Order 23, Sara cited Section 16 of the Local Government Code which provides that local government units should ensure and promote health and safety, as well as preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants within their respective territorial jurisdictions. 

In a separate statement in allowing tricycles on the road amid enhanced community quarantine, Sara also invoked Memorandum Circular 2020-062 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) last March 21, 2020 which reads: “Transportation should also be provided by LGUs for those seeking to avail of these basic services such as those needing to go to the hospital or clinics, or those who have limited access to establishments providing basic necessities." 

“The DILG order was Davao City’s basis in allowing tricycles and taxis during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine,” she said in a statement.

“If the City Government of Davao will not allow taxis and tricycles to move the general public for their basic necessities, we will be caught in an absurd situation where people who own vehicles can easily move around and the general public would resort to walking more than 20 kilometers just to buy food and other basic necessities,” she added.

As of 4 p.m. of April 6, the Philippines has already recorded 3,660 COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 163 have died while 73 others recovered. —KG, GMA News