The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) filed a complaint on Tuesday before the Office of the Ombudsman against Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino, Jr. for the issuance of local policies that violated national enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols that were enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that upon the directive of Secretary Eduardo M. Año, the DILG filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against the Mayor of Olongapo City for repeatedly violating rules and regulations issued by the IATF and implemented by the DILG.
He said that the DILG first issued a show cause order last April against Mayor Paulino for organizing a mass gathering in the distribution of Social Amelioration Cards in the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program. “In that instance, we already admonished him and warned him to fully comply with IATF regulations, otherwise we may be compelled to charge him,” he said.
Notwithstanding that earlier admonition, Paulino again violated IATF regulations when he issued EO No. 54, series of 2020 on May 21 allowing backriding or angkas in his LGU. Specifically, EO 54 established a special pass issued by the Office of the City Mayor which allows backriding in motorcycles in the city.
While he subsequently issued EO No. 54-A on May 25, when his attention was called by the DILG, he did not revoke his earlier EO but simply suspended its implementation until such time that “it is consonant with the guidelines and regulations of the IATF-MEID, DOTr (Department of Transportation), LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), DILG, or any other pertinent government agency.”
Malaya said that “The issuance of EO 54-A does not extinguish the mayor’s liability for issuing EO 54 which violated a clear national policy prohibiting backriding. In fact, in saying that it merely suspended EO 54 ‘until such time’ that it is consonant with national rules proves that he did not completely abandon the previous EO.”
“The EO issued by the Olongapo Mayor in May clearly runs counter to the directives of the national government that were earlier issued in March as well as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act enacted on March 24,” he said.
For instance, Malaya said, the EO of Mayor Paulino violated DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-062 issued on March 21 directing local government units (LGUs) to strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the national government in implementing local programs relative to the State of Calamity. He said that the said EO is also in contravention of DILG MC No. 2020-083 issued on May 18 explicitly indicating that: “While motorcycles are allowed, the ‘no backrider policy’ will be implemented.”
“We are dismayed because as the local chief executive of Olongapo, he should be the first to follow the guidelines issued by the national government. The Bayanihan Act passed in March mandates that all LGUs should act within the letter and spirit of all the rules, regulations, and directives issued by the national government and are implementing standards of community quarantine consistent with what the national government has laid down to address COVID-19. And yet he issued his own policies inconsistent with national policies,” he said.
The DILG Spokesperson also pointed out that prior to the enactment of the Bayanihan Law, Proclamation No. 922 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8 declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines and Proclamation No. 929 dated March 16 declaring a State of Calamity throughout the country enjoined all government agencies and LGUs to render full assistance and cooperation, among others, to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat.
For this reason, he said, the DILG filed a complaint against Mayor Paulino for gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, violation of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan Act, violation of Republic Act No. 11332, and open disobedience under Article 231 of the Revised Penal Code.
“The matter is now in the hands of the Office of the Ombudsman. Doon na po magpapaliwanag ang alkalde ng Olongapo,” he said.
Further, Malaya reminded all local chief executives (LCEs) to be consistent with national laws and rules not only to avoid future legal consequence but also to ensure that their local governments fully cooperate towards a unified, cohesive, and orderly whole of government response to defeat COVID-19 as mandated by the Bayanihan Law.