Kalinga police, military spearhead Covid-19 super-spreader activities
While civilian mobility is strictly monitored and restricted, police and military units of Kalinga go unscathed after violating health protocols and spearheading Covid-19 super-spreader activities in August.
New People’s Army (NPA)-Kalinga command spokesperson Ka Tipun Gil-ayab slammed on Saturday the 50th IB, Cordillera Police Regional Office and the Kalinga Provincial Police Office for spearheading a series of ‘youth leadership’ summits in some municipalities of Kalinga. Gil-ayab further exposed that the participants’ parents said that they were forced by the military to take part.
Kalinga province was placed under the stricter General Community Quarantine in the earlier parts of August which supposedly limits ‘mass gatherings’ and similar activities. Despite this, the 50th IB hosted two summits in Lubuagan and Pasil town.
The Lubuagan youth summit was attended by about a hundred youth participants, coming from five villages, who were crammed into the small classrooms of Lubuagan Central School in Sitio Pudpud, Barangay Poblacion. A week later, it pushed through with the Pasil summit.
Residents reported to the local NPA command that social distancing was not observed during the duration of the summit. They conducted ‘team building’ activities prompting physical contact among participants. Gil-ayab said that there were no face masks, alcohol and sanitizers distributed. Eating sessions were held at the same time and in crammed spaces, he added.
“The activities lasted for almost three days just to give way for the supposed lectures which usually started from seven o’clock until 10 in the evening,” Gil-ayab said. “Undeniably, these could be potential Covid-19 super-spreader activities,” he added.
In a military press release, the summits were said to be part of the Community Support Program as requirements in the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) projects conducted for the barangays of Kalinga.
“In truth,” said Gil-ayab, expressing the parents’ sentiments over the youth summits. “The parents view that such activities are not needed as their children are not exposed to drugs.” Gil-ayab said that the parents were actually worried that the activity would expose their children to Covid-19 but could not complain as the military imposed a ‘quota’ of attendees (from 10-20 participants per barangay).
Prior to these summits, Gil-ayab noted that some residents of Barangay Gawaan in Balbalan town were forced to quarantine after attending a meeting called by the military and police after four of their elements tested postive to Covid-19. Residents complained of restricted movements and livelihood activities due to the irresponsible incident.
Kalinga province records 318 active Covid-19 cases as of August 30 and with a total of 5,679 Covid-19 infections and 89 deaths.