DILG to LGUs, PNP: Close Non-essential Business Operations
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is directing local government units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly enforce the closure of non-essential business establishments while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is still being implemented until April 30 in Luzon amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Make sure that business establishments that are not allowed to operate under IATF guidelines remain closed. The ECQ is still in full force and effect. There is no partial lifting whatsoever. Our country will heal as one if and only if the government, the private sector, and the people stick to the strict enforcement of ECQ,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Several reports, he said, have reached the DILG regarding the opening of some non-essential commercial establishments in some localities.
In DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-062, LGUs are enjoined to ensure the closure of business establishments, except those providing or manufacturing basic necessities such as food, medicine, water, banking and remittance centers, power, energy, telecommunication, and the like. In all such establishments allowed to operate, the LGUs must monitor to ensure the operation of a skeletal workforce only, as well as strict social distancing measures.
“If there is resistance or disobedience to authorities, the PNP has the authority to make arrests. Nasa gitna tayo ng state of public health emergency at kalamidad. Ang mga pasaway ay maaaring arestuhin sa paglabag sa Article 151 ng Revised Penal Code (RPC). The law punishes resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person,” he said.
The penalty for violating Article 151 of the RPC is arresto mayor, or imprisonment of one month and one day to six months, and a fine not exceeding P100,000.
The Department of Justice has also earlier announced that any violation during the ECQ may also be punishable under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
Among the prohibited acts under RA 11332 is non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern. If found guilty, there will be a penalty of not more than six (6) months imprisonment or a fine of not more than P50,000.
“Sa halip na makipaggirian pa sa otoridad, makiisa po tayo sa pagsunod sa ECQ. Iyon na lamang po ang ambag ninyo. Isipin ninyo na lang po ang mga frontliners na isinusugal ang kanilang buhay samantalang ang pagsunod lamang sa ECQ ang inyong simple ngunit importanteng papel sa krisis na ito. Bayan muna, bago negosyo. Disiplina muna para tayo’y makaahon sa pagsubok na ito,” he pointed out.
The DILG Secretary also clarified that police officers and the armed forces are protectors of public safety as well as public health. “Katuwang po natin sila sa pagprotekta sa kaligtasan at kapakanan ng lahat at pagsisigurong naipapatupad ang batas. Ang kalaban natin ay ang Covid-19, hindi ang pulisya’t militar at hindi ang gobyerno.”
He said that non-essential businesses that are breaking the ECQ and opening their stores would jeopardize the efforts of the government and will waste all the gains we have so far achieved.
According to DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya, the DILG is actively working with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in studying how to balance the economic concerns and interests with the imposition of the ECQ.
“The government is taking into account the impact of the ECQ to our national and local economies. The IATF is carefully studying the next steps but one thing for sure is that we have to exercise caution and prudence regarding the partial lifting of the ECQ after April 30. We are optimistic but we must always base our recommendations to the President on scientific evidence,” he said.
The DILG, he said, commends the generosity of the private sector in contributing to the efforts of the government through their donations and social projects. “It is really the time to think of sharing, instead of ‘business as usual’,” he said.