The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today said that it has received from the Philippine National Police (PNP) the results of the fact-finding investigation on the alleged quarantine violations of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Senator Manny Pacquiao.
The PNP conducted the investigation following DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año’s directive to probe the alleged violation of COVID-19 health protocols during the two separate events attended by Pacquiao in Agoncillo, Batangas on November 26, 2020 and by Roque in Bantayan Island, Cebu on November 27, 2020.
“We have received the PNP’s investigation report and this is currently under review by our DILG Legal Service,” said Año.
In its investigation report, the PNP noted that no confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported before and after the event in Agoncillo, Batangas.
"The PNP report says that the local government officials of Agoncillo, Batangas ensured that health protocols such as wearing of face mask and face shield and the adherence to social distancing requirements were strictly observed during Pacquiao’s distribution of relief goods to those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption and the pandemic. The seats in the activity were also arranged to ensure that social distancing was observed. The LGU also distributed face masks and face shields,” he said.
According to the PNP, the physical distancing protocol was briefly disturbed when Pacquiao went down the stage while delivering his speech but he returned immediately to the stage. "The senator and the local government officials then decided to cut short the event and advised the crowd to go home," he said.
Meanwhile, the investigation conducted by Police Regional Office 7 revealed that only four confirmed COVID-19 cases were recorded in Bantayan Island, Cebu which was attended by the Presidential Spokesperson. After which, no increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was recorded.
The PNP report stated that during the kick-off ceremony attended by Roque, the latter emphasized in his speech the importance of observing physical distancing and other minimum health standards to the audience. "Unfortunately, rainfall ensued, causing the audience to scamper to take shelter, thereby breaching physical distancing protocols," he said.
Nevertheless, the PNP noted that Roque and local government officials were able to control the situation by advising the audience to return home and leave the venue.
"The findings of the PNP are currently under review. We assure the public that the Department will continue to remind both national LGU officials to abide with the health protocols to prevent further transmission of the virus," he said.
Meanwhile, the DILG Chief advised all government officials to always set the example in following health protocols as well as abide by PNP recommendations to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents.
“The PNP suggested the use of gymnasium and sports complexes for similar events and avoid crowding by advising those denied entry to the activity to go home as well as putting physical barriers to strictly observe social distancing,” he said.
The PNP also recommended for organizers to determine the total number of participants prior to the event and to install a clear and robust public announcement system to constantly remind the crowd of the observance of minimum health standards.