Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that he is issuing a Show Cause Order against barangay officials who are complicit in the conduct of a viral Sinulog street dance and procession in a COVID-19 hotspot in Cebu City.
He also ordered the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to conduct an investigation and file charges against the organizers of the said event.
“We will not tolerate any violation of our quarantine protocols. Those responsible will be made to account. Hindi din naman tayo tumitigil sa pagpapaalala na napakalaki ng risk of transmission ng COVID-19 sa mass gathering and yet we see these kinds of activities and what makes it worse ay ang barangay na ito ay isang COVID-19 hot spot,” Año said.
“We will get to the bottom of this. We have issued a Show Cause Order against the officials who are involved in this blatant violation of the ECQ currently being implemented in Cebu City,” he added.
According to the reports reaching the DILG, hundreds of people flocked the street of Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak San Nicolas last Saturday, June 27, to participate in a Sinulog street dance and procession in violation of the prohibition against the mass gathering.
Año said that it is frustrating that despite being one of the barangays in Cebu City that is a COVID-19 hotspot, organizers of the said street dance in Barangay Basak San Nicolas still went on with the parade and authorities failed to stop it.
He says that the supposed violation of health protocols placed the lives of the people there at risk.
“We need people to practice discipline. They should know better dahil and Cebu City and may pinakamaraming kaso, dapat sila ang mas maingat. We have nothing against the expression of devotion but in a time of crisis, kailangan mag-isip din naman tayo. Sa ganitong mga pagsuway mas maraming buhay tayong nilalagay a kapahamakan. Disiplina Muna!” he said.
Barangay Basak San Nicolas was one of the 12 barangays in Cebu City placed under strict lockdown due to the high number of recorded COVID-19 cases in the city based on the report of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Included in the list are Sambag Dos; Kamputhaw; Sambag Uno; Mabolo; Guadalupe; Lahug; Duljo; Tinago; Tisa; Ermita; and Tejero. According to the Department of Health, Cebu City has a total of 4,562 total cases as of June 28, 2020, of which 3,892 are active cases, 592 have recovered, and 78 died.
Año said that the DILG is expecting to hear the explanation of the involved local leaders why no criminal and administrative cases should be filed against them while confirming that the PNP-CIDG is also conducting a separate investigation on 21 barangay officials and individuals.
In a Facebook post, the barangay officials denied any involvement in the said mass gathering, saying that they did not authorize the conduct of the street dance and Sinulog procession but why they did not use their legal authority to stop the event from happening was not sufficiently explained.