The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warns it will go after abusive local government unit (LGU) and barangay officials who are taking advantage of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to raise funds or for personal gain.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says 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,” he adds.

The DILG 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.

He says that some reports pointed to 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.

Año says that all these acts are illegal and no one will be spared from the law. He says that any local government official, from the governor down to barangay kagawad, if proven guilty will be sanctioned.

“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,” he warns.

He 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 funds to address the COVID crisis, they should seek the help of their mayor or governor and not charge their constituents.

The DILG chief that 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 and using the imposed ECQ for their illegal undertakings.

“Ito po ay mga ulat na amin nang natanggap at patuloy na natatanggap kaya tinitiyak ko po sa ating mga kababayan na walang makalulusot dito. Mananagot po ang mga abusadong ito sa batas,” he says.

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.

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

“Para sa ating mga pulis at pinuno ng barangay, ang ECQ po ay para matiyak na hindi po kakalat ang COVID-19 hindi para bigyan kayo ng pagkakataon na labagin ang karapatang pantao ng ating mga kababayan na dapat ay inyong pinaglilingkuran,” Año says.

He orders the local chief executives to ensure that no human rights will be violated in the exercise of the ECQ.

“While the DILG directed all LGUs to strictly enforce the guidelines of the IATF-EID during this time of national emergency- including the observance of curfews, we remind all local officials that degrading and inhumane punishments are prohibited by no less than the Constitution,” he points out.

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.