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DoJ: Volunteer response must have LGU authorization

Alvin Murcia

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The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Tuesday reiterated that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Disease guidelines on community quarantines should be strictly observed following the arrest of former Senator Jinggoy Estrada while he was giving relief to San Juan residents.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stressed that while volunteer operations to give relief goods to people in need are encouraged, they should have prior authorization from the local government.

“Non-govt volunteer operations to provide relief goods to people in need are encouraged, provided prior authorization has been secured from the local govt concerned,” Guevarra said.

To recall, the former senator on 3 May was arrested for allegedly violating enhanced community quarantine guidelines in San Juan City, where he was distributing relief goods.

Estrada was was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for allegedly not observing physical distancing and was brought to the San Juan City Police Station.

The arrest became viral on social media as a video posted on Facebook by Estrada’s daughter — former vice mayor Janella Estrada — showed the former senator inside a police station.

Estrada — who was a former San Juan vice mayor — claimed that the arrest was politically motivated, saying that they always practice and observe social distancing and also wear PPE (personal protective equipment) to be safe when giving out aid.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, meantime, earlier said that he received reports that Estrada had been going around neighborhoods in the city to distribute relief goods and noted that the former senator allegedly did not have a quarantine pass and failed to coordinate with the local government before conducting relief operations

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