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Private relief drives OK if compliant with laws: DOJ


Guevarra
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Relief drives by private organizations should be conducted in compliance with existing laws, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday.

"Non-government volunteer operations to provide relief goods to people are encouraged, provided prior authorization has been secured from the local government concerned and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) guidelines on community quarantine are strictly observed," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a statement.

He said this is to ensure that public health is not put in danger during relief operations and quarantine protocols are observed amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

This came following the incident involving former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who was accosted by police officers for holding a relief drive without a permit from the San Juan City government on Sunday afternoon.

Later on the same day, Estrada was released after explaining his side to the Eastern Police District (EPD) Director, Brig. Gen. Johnson Almazan.

Although he was in full personal protective equipment and social distancing has been strictly observed during the distribution, Estrada admitted that he does not have a permit to conduct a relief operation.

Estrada accused San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora of "political harassment" over the issue.

Zamora, however, belied the allegation adding that he issued a permit on April 29 allowing Janella Estrada, the former senator's daughter, and his former rival in last year's mid-term elections to hold a distribution of free medicines. (PNA)