Duterte orders arrest of barangay captains for violations of mass gathering ban

If there is one single incident beginning tonight, the police will arrest the barangay captain first,’ says President Duterte

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, angered by reports of swimming parties and picnics that led to COVID-19 transmissions, has ordered the police to arrest barangay captains in villages where future mass gathering violations happen.

“‘If there is one single incident beginning tonight, the police will arrest the barangay captain first together with those doing the picnic, have them investigated and detain them,” said Duterte on Wednesday night, May 27, in a meeting with pandemic task force officials.

Duterte, who used to be a prosecutor in Davao City before his political career, said such barangay captains can be arrested for “dereliction of duty.” Later in the meeting, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo suggested that the crime of “reckless imprudence” can also apply to mass gathering ban violators.

He gave assurances to police that this is a legal order as this crime is listed in the Revised Penal Code.

Dereliction of duty is a section in Crimes Committed by Public Officers in the Revised Penal Code.

“Article 208, which deals with negligence, says public officers can serve prison time or be suspended if they ‘maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses,'” it reads.

Duterte was visibly frustrated after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reported that a swimming party in Caloocan City led to COVID-19 transmissions.

“If theres a party or swimming picnic there and wala kang ginawa, ikaw ang hulihin ko, una (and you didn’t do anything, I will arrest you first),” said Duterte, addressing barangay captains.

He even suggested specific ways to deal with people in mass gatherings. 

Hampasin mo yung paa, hampasin mo yung kamay ‘pag lumaban (Hit them on the feet or on the hands if they fight back),” said the President.

He assured cops that he would protect them from legal harassment that could arise from this crackdown of barangay chiefs as long as they “do exactly what the law requires.”

Duterte stressed he would not protect “abusive” cops, like those who report to work drunk.

With a Report from Rappler via Albert Rovic Tan, AdChoiceTV News

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