Duterte to LGUs: Only national gov't can impose travel restrictions
President Rodrigo Duterte said only the national government could impose restrictions for the national interest amid opposition by some local government units on the entry of returning Filipinos in their respective areas.
In a televised message on Monday night, Duterte ordered the LGUs to accept all returning Filipinos.
"Now, let me be very clear. Let me talk about legality so that we don't have ill-feelings. Nobody but nobody can really stifle the right of a - whether he is traveling and working outside and coming in, going home. We just have an aberration in the movement of people because of COVID," he said.
"And only the national government can impose restrictions on travels because it is the only agency who can declare that there is an emergency of national interest. The issue is national interest. And that power to - of declaration is not shared by anybody. It's the national government," he stressed.
Durterte further said, "Now for the cities that did not want to accept (returning Filipinos), you know, I'm ordering you to accept them, open the gates of your territories and allow the people - and allow the Filipino to travel wherever they want."
In order not to confuse the people, he said the LGUs are not allowed to unilaterally close the "egress and ingress of people."
Duterte said if the LGUs want to implement any quarantine measure, they have to ask permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
"It is the constitutional right of people to go home - to travel and go home. Do not impede it. Do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally," he said.
Some LGUs reportedly have been complaining about the decision of the national government to allow some 24,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers to return to their respective provinces after their quarantine in Metro Manila and in the implementation of Balik Probinsiya Program, where Filipinos living in urban areas are allowed to go home.
The LGUs were concerned that these returning Filipinos could be COVID-19 carriers. Celerina Monte/DMS