Why are some LGUs relaxing the MECQ guidelines?

The word “omnibus” is derived from Latin and means “to, for, by, with or from everything.” Among its many synonyms are “complete,” “comprehensive,” and “universal.”
Precisely, the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, promulgated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and updated as of Sept. 23, 2021, specify rules and regulations governing every aspect of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the same guidelines, local government units are allowed to decide to amend or decide on only three provisions: relaxing the minimum age of those allowed to go out from 18 to 15 years old, increasing the capacity of religious venues from 10% to 30%, and imposing curfew.
In adherence to the guidelines, Governor Joseph Cua issued Executive Order No. 037 adopting guidelines for areas placed under MECQ as provided under the same IATF omnibus guidelines.
The Capitol EO issued on Oct. 31, 2021 raised the capacity of venues for religious gatherings to 30% and then specified the length of wakes for the dead to a maximum of five (5) days.
At the same time, however, municipal governments issued their own Eos on the MECQ guidelines while the Virac police station had their own advisory put out on social media.
The problem, however, is that there were some significant differences in how the MECQ guidelines were interpreted.
While the Virac MPS advisory clearly started that outdoor tourist attractions, indoor dine-in services and personal care services such as salons, parlors, barbershops and nail spas are prohibited from operating, Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr.’s EO allowed dine-in establishments to operate at 20% capacity, and personal case services as well as outdoor tourist attractions at 30%.
San Andres Mayor Peter Cua allowed church services at 30% capacity while closing beaches. The town also required the issuance of barangay market pass, which should be presented at established control points.
In Viga. Mayor Emeterio Tarin banned the operation of passenger vans and disallowed backriders on motorcycles, but allowed the operation of parlors and barbershops at 30% capacity.
Caramoran’s MECQ guidelines appear to be the strictest, with Mayor Glenda Aguilar extending the quarantine period to Nov. 30, imposing a curfew of 8 AM to 5 PM, limiting participants to weddings and baptisms, and prohibiting birthday celebrations and the use of videoke machines, among others.
The conflicting provisions in the aforementioned MECQ guidelines of the LGUs and the Virac police is unnecessarily causing confusion among the public in the island.
As stated in the National IATF-MEID omnibus guidelines, “Areas placed under MECQ shall observe the following protocols:…”
Even ordinary people would be able to understand that the LGUs are supposed to strictly abide by the omnibus guidelines, unless allowed therein to decide on specific provisions such as the minimum age requirement for those allowed outside, the venue of religious venues and imposition of uniform curfew hours.
Thus, it is a mystery to some that the local chief executive of the capital town reportedly asked his constituents to just comply with the municipal IATF resolution “habang pinagaaralan natin ang legalidad ng sa Probinsiya.”
By relaxing the rules covering personal care services, dine-in establishments and outdoor tourist attractions, is not the good mayor in contravention of the national IATF’s guideline that such “establishments, persons or activities shall not be permitted to operate, work or to be undertaken during MECQ”?
Perhaps, local chief executives failed to read on to that important paragraph that comprises Section 3(18) that says: “Any violation of the foregoing prohibitions shall constitute non-cooperation of the person or entities punishable under Section 9 par. (d) or (e), as the case may be, of Republic Act No. 11332, otherwise known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.”
Let it be known to the executives’ political opponents as well as the voting public that such an offense is punishable by a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment of one to six months, or both at the discretion of the law, to be imposed on the officer in charge in case of a juridical entity like the LGU.
Relaxing supposedly strict pandemic guidelines just to curry favor with a few affected sectors is not only in violation of the National IATF resolution but a selfish act that would put the public in danger from the COVID-19 Delta variant now spreading in the island.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: