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MANILA – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año urged the local government units (LGUs) to issue certification to the private groups who plan to conduct relief operations amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the certification would be needed before organizations can pass through quarantine checkpoints and conduct their relief operations.

He said all relief operations should be properly coordinated with LGUs before the relief items are distributed at the community level.

He added that they have received reports that some were caught with unauthorized placards that state they were volunteer organizations.

“Based on the report Joint Task Force Covid Shield, dahil ginagamit na palusot ang relief ops, minabuti ni Secretary Año na maglabas ng kautusan na lahat ng relief operations ay magpakita ng certification galing sa LGU na sila ay nakipagugnayan para mamigay ng relief goods (relief ops are being used as alibi, Secretary Año decided to come out with directive that all relief operations must have certification from LGU allowing them to distribute relief goods),” Malaya said in a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday.

Malaya said relief organizations will violate the government’s “stay at home” and “social distancing” policies of the government if they will distribute goods without permit from LGUs.

He assured that LGUs will be responsive in processing the certification of relief organizations and their volunteers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said one-page certification from the city government would suffice and would be honored by the police at checkpoints.

He added that the policy aims to protect both the volunteers and the communities that they are trying to help from the dreaded coronavirus.

“We are not prohibiting people from doing relief organizations. What we are saying is we need to control the movement of people. That is what ECQ is, ergo the government needs to regulate. If you want to distribute, whether large or small. Talk to your LGU,” he said.

Zero tolerance

Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force Covid Shield has started implementing a zero-tolerance policy on curfew violators as the government further intensified the security measures due to the ECQ extension up to May 15.

In compliance with directive of Año and Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, JTF Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said violators will be arrested and will no longer be given consideration.

Eleazar said the intensified ECQ implementation has been reinforced with deployment of more policemen on the streets to arrest violators of not only home quarantine but also those who do not observe social distancing and do not wear face mask.

He said the stricter rules and deployment of more soldiers and policemen on the streets resulted in the sharp increase of the number of violators arrested on Friday.

“From the average of 24.17 percent arrested violators in the first 39 days of the ECQ implementation, our record yesterday (April 24) was at 73.79 percent,” Eleazar said in a statement on Saturday.

He explained that while there were 145,940 violators reported from March 17 to April 24, only 35,270 of them, or 24.17 percent, were arrested while 103,781 (71.11 percent) were just warned and allowed to go home mostly for humanitarian reason. The remaining 6,889 violators (4.72 percent), were fined.

For April 24, a total of 1,488 violators were reported across the country. Of the figure, 1,098, or 73.79 percent, of them were arrested while the remaining 390 (26.21 percent), were fined.

“The increase on the number of violators arrested can be attributed to our zero-tolerance policy, meaning, not a single violator was warned on April 24. They were either arrested or fined,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar, however, said the number of violators has been declining since March 17.

“We expect substantial compliance to the directives of the SILG and the Chief PNP now that we further intensified the implementation of the ECQ,” said Eleazar. (PNA)