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COVID-19 accountability

"Some local officials are remiss in their jobs."

It is high time that local government units were made accountable for the spike in COVID-19 cases in their area of responsibility.

LGUs from governors and mayors to the barangay captains are supposed to monitor the pandemic situation and institute corrective health measures to stem the virus infection. An outbreak in a barangay simply means that persons of authority, whose salaries are paid from state coffers, failed to impose basic health protocols, or enforce the law and the local ordinance relevant to containing the pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte the other night ordered mayors and barangay captains to take the lead in enforcing regulations on social distancing and health protocols after expressing frustration over the high number of recorded daily COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Duterte directed Interior Secretary Eduardo Año “to hold the mayors responsible for these kind of [spreader] events happening in their places.” The President’s order is overdue. Some barangay captains have turned a blind eye to large crowds in nearby wet markets, for instance, or some cozy bars frequented by several patrons despite the clear ban on such establishments.

The barangay captains know the ins and outs of their small community. They cannot feign ignorance on a potential spreader event, be it a birthday party or a reunion.

The failure of local government units to curb the virus infection has taken its toll on workers and the overall economy. Workers who have been religiously complying with basic health protocols are the first to suffer from lockdowns and strict quarantine rules. Many of them have lost their jobs because of the harsh rules and extended curfew hours that restricted their mobility.

Quarantine restrictions and the drop in consumer consumption, according to the National Economic and Development Authority, translated into a total household income loss of around P1.04 trillion in 2020, or an average of P2.8 billion a day.

Many jobs and significant incomes are being lost because some local government officials failed to contain COVID-19. They are remiss in their jobs.

Topics: Editorial , COVID-19 accountability , LGUs , Interior Secretary Eduardo Año
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