President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to provide the public with sufficient food supplies after placing the entire of Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” on Monday.
In a televised public address, he asked Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista to “utilize all vehicles of government available” to distribute food packages in communities amid reports of panic buying and hoarding of basic goods.
“Just go around…maybe asking if there is somebody starving or in need of food. It behooves upon the barangay captain…this is a mandatory duty. It does not have to have a law because the proclamation itself suggests that there is really a need for you to work with government,” he said.
He said local government executives who fail to provide communities with food will be liable for dereliction of duty.
“The barangay captain should call a number and at least food, rice, and some ulam puwede niyo ibigay sana para sa ating mga kababayan (viand that they can give to our citizens),” he said.
He said those who refuse to work for fear of catching Covid-19 had no right to be in their elected positions.
“If there is a barangay captain who does not fulfill his duty in going around and trying to find out how the citizens are faring…if you are afraid to die of Covid-19, then you have no business being a barangay captain,” he said.
Bautista will spearhead these food supply initiatives, he said.
He also bared that San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang and other food conglomerates also promised to provide sufficient food.
“I have been assured by Ramon Ang mismo (himself) of San Miguel and other conglomerates that there will be sufficient food—that there will be no hunger in the coming weeks because we have enough supplies,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also urged local government executives to come up with their own measures to minimize the risk of contracting Covid-19.
The enhanced community quarantine in Luzon will be in effect until April 12, coinciding with the entire end of the Holy Week.
Under this quarantine, only private establishments providing basic necessities related to food, medicine, banks, power, energy, water, telecommunications, and the like will remain open.
He decided to expand the quarantine after concluding that “stricter measures are necessary” to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.