CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 April) – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued show cause orders (SCOs) against Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri and two other governors for allegedly violating quarantine guidelines issued by the national government.
Secretary Eduardo Año, in a press statement, gave the local executives 48 hours to submit a written explanation stating clearly why no administrative cases should be filed against them for negligence, dereliction of duty, and violation of the Bayanihan Act.
“Failure to do so will result to an automatic administrative case to be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said, adding that the erring officials may also face criminal charges from the National Bureau of Investigation.
Although Año did not reveal the governors’ names, a GMA 7 televised report identified Zubiri and the two other governors: Jocelyn Bernos of Abra and Rhodora Cadiao of Antique. GMA 7 also identified four mayors issued the SCOs: Dino Reyes Chua of Noveleta, Cavite; Gerry Natanauan of Talisay, Batangas; Rolen Paulino of Olongapo City; and Ernesto Escutin of Dao, Capiz.
Año said the local chief executives were cited for “violation of the prohibition against mass gatherings, failure to strictly implement social distancing measures, prohibiting the movement of all types of cargo through the borders of his LGU, refusing entry to OFWs that were issued health certifications by the DOH, prohibiting the operations of industries vital to the food security of our country, and prohibiting the entry of essential personnel like health workers into his LGU, among others.”
“As directed by the President himself, we will not go easy on local government officials who will violate the prescribed directives during the ECQ” as issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID)
Zubiri, in his Executive Order No. 20, has tightened the province’s community quarantine effective April 13 until the 26th.
Among its controversial provisions include banning residents and non-residents from entering the province. If residents travel outside of Bukidnon, they will be denied re-entry.
Late last month, Zubiri ordered a ban on the selling and shipment of rice outside Bukidnon, a major rice producer in Northern Mindanao. But he rescinded the order hours later.
In Misamis Oriental, police have defied orders from Gov. Yevgeny Emano and the Tagoloan local government requiring workers to present health permits at the quarantine checkpoints.
Lt. Theofratus Pia, spokesperson of PNP Misamis Oriental, said the PNP manning these checkpoints will not require workers to present health permits if they fall under the exempted category issued by the IATF-EID.
The task force exempts workers in basic services and delivery of goods and other necessities, and authorized government officials.
Also exempted are medical, funeral, emergency responders, security, workers of banks, delivery personnel, utilities personnel (such as in telecommunications, water and electricity) and journalists.
“These people are exempted. All they have to do is present their IDs at the checkpoints,” Pia said.
Pia advised those exempted to talk to the PNP officer in charge of the quarantine checkpoints if barangay or municipal health workers demand health permits from them. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)