Anakpawis members released on bail, DILG warns them never to violate the ECQ again

After being detained for violating the ECQ, the members of Anakpawis arrested in Norzagaray, Bulacan have been charged before the Regional Trial Court and have now been released on bail but received a stern warning from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) never to violate the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) directive of the National Government again.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that no one will be spared once they violate the ECQ guidelines set by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the DILG. He says that members of Anakpawis will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for flaunting the rules set by government during this pandemic.

"They were in violation of ECQ guidelines at the time when the the entire country is struggling to contain the coronavirus to prevent further transmission. Ang ganitong mga paglabag ay hindi lamang taliwas sa batas ngunit isang banta sa kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan," Año says.

"Now that they have posted bail, we hope that they will not do it again dahil hindi naman tayo magdadalawang-isip na dakpin silang muli," he adds.

Año says that the six Anakpawis members and former Anakpawis party-list representative Ariel Casilao arrested in Norzagaray, Bulacan last April 19 were released last night after posting bail amounting to P39,000 each for violation of RA 11332 and other laws while Casilao posted bail of P30,000 for Usurpation of Authority.

According to Año, the said Anakpawis members took advantage of the provision granted to food pass holders and violated physical distancing protocols with an attempt to organize mass gathering in the guise of relief efforts for the poor. Upon inspection, numerous propaganda materials and banners were confiscated from the group.

“The Anakpawis incident was a clear demonstration of how food pass can be exploited for malicious intents in the guise of relief operation for the poor. Sinabi na din po ng Department of Agriculture (DA) na hindi po maaaring gamitin ang food pass sa pamamahagi ng relief goods,” he adds.

In a statement yesterday, DA Secretary William Dar has clarified that food pass is a privilege given to producers, suppliers and truckers that procure and deliver agri-fishery commodities and other food products to and from Manila and other provinces during the observance of the ECQ and cannot be used for relief operations.

No food pass, no entry

Following the Anakpawis incident, Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be vigilant and always be on the lookout for unauthorized usage of said pass in all checkpoints nationwide.

Año says that the PNP must ensure that the recent incident of unauthorized use of food pass involving the members of the militant group Anakpawis will not happen, moving forward.

“Walang pinipili ang mga manloloko at mga kriminal na ito, maging ang krisis na tulad ng COVID-19 kaya I urge the men and women of the PNP manning our checkpoints to be vigilant in checking food passes at tiyakin na ito ay hindi peke at hindi magagamit sa anumang iligal na aktibidad,” Año says.

"PNP’s consistent presence in checkpoints and their vigilance in counterchecking requisites such as the food pass and other permits can aid in ensuring that only permissible entities can pass through," he adds.

He explains that the DILG and the PNP were requested by the Department of Agriculture (DA) “to determine whether there are perceived violations in relation to the use of the food pass cards.”

According to him, PNP police officers on checkpoints were extensively briefed on the policies and directives implemented during the ECQ issued by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the DILG. “Alam po nila ang saklaw ng kanilang papel sa pagpapairal ng mga polisiya ng ECQ.”

He also says that the DILG and the PNP are in constant communication with the DA and other national government agencies to ensure that food transport in various checkpoints nationwide will be unimpeded.

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