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President Duterte calls for concerted efforts against coronavirus

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday asked local government units (LGUs) to strictly follow the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to avoid confusion as the government carries out a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

In an address to the nation, President Duterte said the national government needs the cooperation of the LGUs during the current emergency asking them to follow government-set standards to prevent public confusion and disorder.

“I want to tell you: Do not make this quarantine or quarantine more difficult for our people than it already is. LGUs should take note of this — that at this time let us make ourselves clear that we are not a separate from a republic or from each other,” he told the LGUs.

“There is only one republic here, the Republic of the Philippines. And therefore, you should abide by the directives of the national government when it sets abide by the directives of the whole for the good of the country and the protocols observed during the time of the lockdown.”

As the government battles COVID-19 and responds to an emergency, the national government should be the one calling the shots, the President said.

The IATF is the national government body in charge of laying down the quarantine standards, President Duterte said, telling LGUs to strictly observe the protocols set by the body.

“Let me be clear to everyone. So when the IATF says: ‘Do not restrict the flow of cargo of whatever type’, then no LGU should say that they only follow or allow food or essential goods to come in. You are setting already your standards, and making this quarantine more difficult for all.”

“I am ordering all LGUs that are doing this to stand down, and to abide by the directives of the IATF, the task force not mine but the task force, and those issued by the Office of the President,” he stressed.

Disobedience by LGUs could be considered abuse of authority, the President said, adding local chief executives not adhering to IATF standards may be charged administratively or even criminally.

To ensure compliance, the President directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to closely monitor the conduct of local officials.

“Sundin na lang natin tutal para man ito sa lahat. Do not try to overdo things or think that you can do what you want to do because that is not allowed. We, you know, move in one direction, in one unison, precisely to place the contagion in control for the better health of our Filipino, our countrymen,” he said.

Many countries have also imposed similar measure to fight the highly contagious coronavirus.

President Duterte wants the Philippines to set an example in imposing a strict community quarantine that is effective in stopping the virus and at the same time liberal enough in mitigating hardships and preventing chaos.

At the same time, the President instructed the police and the military to help stranded travelers by providing them food and temporary shelter as the government coordinates efforts to send them home. PND