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FOR the nth time, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a stern warning against village chiefs sleeping on their job. But this time, the warning comes with a perk – some time behind bars.

According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, barangay officials may be arrested even in the absence of a warrant in the event a gathering takes place in his or her area of jurisdiction.

Roque said that the President ordered the arrest of barangay captains who have been reluctant in the implementation of health protocols, including prohibition of mass gathering, for dereliction of duty.

“Warrantless arrest can be performed by law enforcers when the law enforcement is personally witnessing the crime. If the barangay captain is at the scene of the super-spreader event, knows about it and did nothing, that is dereliction of duty,” Roque said in a televised interview.

Interestingly, the stern warning came only after incidents of mass gathering in private resorts in Caloocan and Quezon City where quite a number turned out to be positive for COVID-19.

Roque added, village chiefs offering an alibi of not knowing about the incident would not be excused and stand to face charges arising from negligence. He however noted that under this situation, cases should be filed in court from where an arrest warrant would be issued.

“If the prosecutor finds probable cause, the judge will issue an arrest warrant against the barangay chairman,” Roque added.

Participants and organizers of the super-spreader events will also be held liable for violating local ordinances penalizing breach of quarantine protocols, he further noted.

He also hinted at local ordinances as too weak citing penalties under local ordinances may not be enough to make people accountable.

“We need to have a national quarantine law that will spell out stiffer penalties for breach of quarantine protocol,” Roque quipped.

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