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2 barangay councilors arrested for smuggling townmates into Pangasinan

PANGASINAN, Philippines –  Police arrested on Tuesday, April 14, two barangay councilors (kagawad) for smuggling into Pangasinan 7 townmates who were stranded in Metro Manila after the province was placed under extreme enhanced community quarantine.

The councilors were from Barangay Batangcaoa in Urbiztondo town, said Police Major Fernando Fernandez, Villasis chief of police.

Fernandez did not identify the suspects but he said that they were in their barangay uniforms when they were arrested.

According to Fernandez, the 7 individuals rented a van from Manila for P3,000 each to get to Pangasinan.

They got off at the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) in the nearby town of Rosales and walked through the rice fields where they met with the suspects. Little did they know the police had been waiting for them, too.

Fernandez said that the individuals trying to return home were reportedly laid off from their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak, forcing them to try and slip through Pangasinan’s borders despite the lockdown.

They will be brought to an isolation area in Barangay Unzad, Villasis, and will be sent back to the border. They will not be allowed to enter Pangasinan until the extended extreme enhanced community quarantine in the province is lifted.

The councilors, on the other hand, were arrested. They will be charged with violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code, or the resistance and disobedience to a person in authority.

“They may be aiming to help, but we cannot justify their intentions to violate the law”, said Fernandez.

As of Monday, April 13, Pangasinan has recorded 5 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 33 cases, including 9 deaths.

Authorities urged the public to stay home and refrain from travelling to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus which has infected more than 5,000 people in the Philippines, killed 335, and had 295 patients who recovered as of Tuesday, April 14. – Rappler.com