The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomed the 30-day preventive suspension imposed on the barangay officials involved in the “karakol” and mass gathering event in Barangay Santiago in Gen. Trias, Cavite last month.
The DILG commended the local government unit’s (LGU) immediate action and investigation after the incident.
“Kudos to the city mayor and the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP or city council) of Gen. Trias, Cavite for acting quickly on the ‘karakol’ incident. May other LGUs take a cue from this incident, putting into the forefront the stringent implementation of health protocols, even down to the barangay level,” DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said in a news release on Tuesday night.
Malaya said after Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año’s order to conduct a fact-finding investigation, Gen. Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer approved the SP’s recommendation to issue a 30-day preventive suspension to Barangay Santiago Punong Barangay Rolando Pagkaliwangan and barangay kagawads Joey Loyola, Francisco Solis, and Ferdinand Perdito.
In Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution 03-2021-176, the local legislative body of the City of General Trias recommended the issuance of a preventive suspension for 30 days against the concerned barangay officials under Section 63 of the Local Government Code to further investigate the incident and provide an opportunity for the involved parties to be heard.
“On the part of the DILG, we are hoping that during this 30-day suspension period, the investigation would be completed to determine whether there was negligence on the part of the barangay officials and if they should face administrative charges,” he said in Filipino.
“The most important is for LGUs, down to the barangays, to learn and be stricter to prevent a repeat of this incident, especially now that there is a community transmission of the Delta variant,” he added in Filipino.
Malaya said he hopes the incident serves as a warning to all barangay officials that the DILG does not tolerate any violation of minimum public health standards during the pandemic.
In a viral video posted on social media, hundreds of residents of Barangay Santiago participated in a “karakol” procession and mass gathering along Arnaldo Highway, deliberately violating the minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face mask and face shield, and physical distancing, while the LGU was under the general community quarantine with heightened restrictions classification.
Before the imposition of the preventive suspension, the city mayor issued a show cause order against the concerned barangay officials after learning of the “karakol” procession participated in by several barangay residents, which is a violation of local issuances and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution 2021-50.
In his letter to the city mayor, Pagkaliwangan apologized and shared that he only required 30 percent of the barangay employees to join the “karakol” and assist while following the safety health protocols.
He also said some residents who were seen not wearing face masks did so “when things got out of hand after a heavy rain, overwhelming the people to flock and join the parade.”