Amid 'physical closure' of courts, Guevarra asserts on arrest for quarantine violators
This photo taken March 18 shows a law enforcement agent manning a checkpoint amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

Amid 'physical closure' of courts, Guevarra asserts on arrest for quarantine violators

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - March 20, 2020 - 10:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine courts may be “physically closing” on March 23, amid the rising cases of COVID-19, but the Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra will not soften his stance on possible arrest of violators of the enhanced community quarantine.

“Our criminal laws are not suspended during times of emergency,” Guevarra told reporters in a message.

Earlier Friday, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta directed courts nationwide to be “physically closed” to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

Courts will still entertain messages, through calls or emails, but only when the judges and justices decide that the matter raised is urgent will the courts tackle it.

Guevarra was asked if he would change his stance on arresting violators of the enhanced community quarantine, which restricted movement across Luzon and where some municipalities and cities enforced curfews.

“Law enforcement, prosecution, and court adjudication structures and procedures will just have to make the necessary adjustments, no matter how difficult it may be,” he said.

“Otherwise we will have a breakdown of law and order,” Guevarra added.

The Justice chief earlier said that violators of the lockdown may be charged with resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person. A charge on violating Republic Act 11332 is the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act” may also be filed.

The following are listed as prohibited acts under RA 11332:

  • Non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems
  • Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern
  • Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers however pointed out that provisions of the said law is vague.

"It is our opinion that this crime [is] not sufficiently defined in the law. The penal provision is so vague that it is open to interpretation and may give way to abuse by law enforcement authorities. It is open to legal challenge," the NUPL said. 

They added that charges of resisting and disobeying enforces of the quarantine may be landed "only if you willfully disobeyed lawful orders of law enforcers." However, they were careful to mention that this still left the door open for demanding explanation and clarification. 

COVID-19 MENARDO GUEVARRA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SUPREME COURT
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.

The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.

According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.

April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Batangas, one of the provinces hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, has reported no new cases of the disease for two consecutive days.

The provincial DOH Office says the number of COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 91 with no new cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

Lipa City has the most cases with 26, followed by Batangas City (21) and Nasugbu (11).

Tanauan City has the fourth most cases with eight, followed by Bauan (5) and Alitagtag (3). Cuenca and Sto. Tomas City had two cases each, while the municipalities of Calaca, Lemery, Lian, Lobo, Mabini, Mataas na Kahoy, Padre Garcia, San Jose, San Juan, San Pascual and Taal had one case each, respectively. — The Filipino Connection

April 29, 2020 - 5:39pm

Quezon City's Task Force Disiplina has been instructed to withdraw its complaint against Michael Rubuia whom city "enforcers" were caught on video beating with sticks over alleged quarantine violations.

The QC government says in the same statement that the enforcers of Task Force Disiplina have been issued show-cause orders for their actions. They may also be put on preventive suspension.

It also says Ruguia will be released to the city's drug rehabilitation center "in view of his positive drug test."

A police report on the April 27 incident did not mention the beating by task force personnel nor that he Ruguia had tested positive for drugs.

More on that incident here: QC to investigate 'local authorities' caught on video beating man lacking face mask

April 28, 2020 - 10:26pm

A 72-year-old Person Deprived of Liberty at the Correctional Institution for Women-Mandaluyong who had tested positive for COVID-19 died on Monday, the Bureau of Corrections says Tuesday.

She was the first confirmed COVID-19 case at the correctional facility and had been hospitalized on April 13 "after experiencing pneumonia symptoms," BuCor says.

"It can be recalled that her admission to the hospital triggered the contact tracing and isolation of those PDL that had contact with her days before she was brought to the hospital," BuCor also says.

Of 130 PDLs tested, 47 have been confirmed to have COVID-19.

A CIW PDL who had been admitted to East Avenue Medical Center on April 13 and who died on April 21 has also been confirmed to have had COVID-19. The results of the test, done on April 14, were only released on Monday.

April 27, 2020 - 2:59pm

Two new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Lipa City on Monday even as the total recoveries jumped to five out of the 26 confirmed cases so far, the Lipa City government said.

Mayor Eric Africa announced that two male patients, ages 78 and 27 years old, tested positive for the virus, raising the city’s total infections to 26 – the most in Batangas province. The Filipino Connection

April 26, 2020 - 3:10pm

Community farms could be a "short cut" to meeting the country's food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caritas Philippines says, citing community farming projects that the Catholic Church in the Philippines is helping.

"The social amelioration program is not efficiently solving our food security problem however we see it as a necessary short-cut solution," Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines says

"Thus we at NASSA/Caritas Philippines strongly urge our government, especially the Department of Agriculture to start mobilizing farmers at the community level while we still have time."

The Department of Agriculture has said urban and community farming is among its strategies toward food security during the pandemic.

Bagaforo says "our community farms are helping deliver fresh vegetables to families severely affected by work suspension in Iligan, Bayombong and Camarines Sur, while a local farmers' cooperative supported by the diocese of Libmanan in Camarines Norte and the Gratia Plena program of the Diocese of San Jose in Nueva Ecija are supplying thousands of sacks of commercial and organic rice to Luzon provinces."

Backyard gardening programs in Iloilo, Bukidnon, Quezon, Leyte, the Samar provinces, Capiz, Oriental Mindoro and Zambales have also helped ensure food security for farming families, he says.

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