Recognizing the critical role of barangays in preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged all barangay officials to be more proactive in the enforcement of minimum health protocols in their respective communities.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that barangays should adopt measures to promote health and safety, maintain peace and order, and to preserve the comfort and convenience of the barangay inhabitants, especially during a public health emergency.
He said that this is provided in Section 16 or the General Welfare Clause of the Local Government Code.
“Sa lebel ng komunidad talaga ang tunay na laban sa COVID-19. National government can only do general supervision but the barangay governments are on the ground and closest to the people. Barangays, therefore, have the huge responsibility in implementing minimum health standards,” he said.
The DILG, through the Office of Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin B. Diño, issued an advisory dated June 17, 2020, reminding all punong barangays nationwide to monitor the adherence within their respective jurisdictions of the practice of wearing of face masks, physical or social distancing, regular handwashing, and the availability of sanitizers, clean water, and soap.
Barangays are also directed to discourage mass gatherings and eating together in communal areas.
Aside from policing the enforcement of these standards in their barangays, the DILG further enjoins barangay officials to do regular cleaning and disinfection within barangay premises.
Barangays should minimize the number of participants of their activities such as holding meetings and other sessions.
If available, they are urged to utilize digital platforms like video conferencing that can foster physical distancing among the staff.
“The DILG reminds barangay officials to walk the talk. Follow the rules first before you impose on others,” Año said.
For monitoring purposes, the DILG Regional Offices will submit to the Central Office the list of barangay officials, if any, who failed to comply with COVID-19 related policies of the Department and other government agencies.
This includes whether the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) and Barangay Public Safety Officers are effectively and efficiently performing their mandated duties and functions as members of the Contact Tracing Team (CTT).
Barangays are also told to maintain that no fees or charges shall be collected for the issuance of Barangay Certifications for COVID-19 related purposes.
The DILG Secretary reiterates that no one is above the law and the Department will continue to file raps against those who violate quarantine protocols.
Just last June 18, 2020, the DILG recommended disciplinary action against 20 punong barangays in Metro Manila to the Office of the Ombudsman.
“You are the leaders of your communities, how can you expect people to follow if you yourselves are the number one violators? May mga na-sampolan na po tayo, ‘wag na po sana tayong dumagdag sa problema ng bayan,” he said.