MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it is now investigating the alleged breach of health protocols during the opening of a mall in Zamboanga City.
“Ang instruction namin sa aming regional office doon ay kausapin na kaagad yung mall, alamin kung anong nangyari and make sure this incident does not happen again [Our instruction to our regional office there is to talk to the mall management, and know what happened and make sure that this incident does not happen again],” DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a Laging Handa briefing.
Malaya added that it is up to the city government to impose the necessary penalties against the mall.
“So we are waiting for the result of the investigation being conducted,” he added.
Malaya said a violation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) protocols may result in the withdrawal or suspension of the business permit of a business establishment.
“Ang sinabi po namin sa local government of Zamboanga City, they can immediately impose whatever sanction they think is necessary para po di na maulit ang insidente na nangyari [What we told the local government of Zamboanga City was that they can immediately impose whatever sanction they think is necessary so that incident will not happen again],” Malaya pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) urged mall owners and managers to ensure order and safety of their customers and be responsible enough in implementing the safety protocols in their areas of responsibility to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)
“We are calling on mall owners, including security agencies, who have the authority on public order and safety inside the malls to be responsible in ensuring the safety of their customers,” PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said in a statement.
Usana said the task of implementing the minimum health safety standard protocols are at the hands of the mall management since this was the agreement based on the order of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
There was also an existing agreement even before the pandemic that policemen are not allowed to enter the malls without proper coordination with the mall security managers.
Usana said that they will leave the investigation to proper units and government agencies.
“Most likely, the sanctions would be administrative on erring mall owners and even other establishments where people would gather without minimum caution against the virus. In this case, we may anticipate the DOH (Department of Health), DILG, and the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to impose appropriate sanctions within the bounds of the law. On the criminal aspect, if there are violations of the ordinances of the Local Government Units, we can enforce them, leading either to imprisonment or fine or both,” he explained.
Viral photos and videos of the opening of the SM Mindpro in Zamboanga City showed that mallgoers failed to observe physical distancing while entering the mall on December 8. (PNA)