This photo taken March 18 shows a law enforcement agent manning a checkpoint amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Drilon suggests repeal of penal provisions of Bayanihan Act
( - May 29, 2020 - 2:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he wants to repeal the provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that punishes violations of the said law.

During the Senate Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs hearing on Friday, Drilon said he has “no problem with granting the executive leeway” in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the bills on agenda of the hearing is a stimulus package plan for the government and the extension of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan law.

But Drilon stressed the Bayanihan law was crafted to address a public health emergency and not as a penal statute or to punish crimes.

“The way we have seen it, the violators here are treated like criminal,” the senator said.

Drilon said that provisions of the law have been cited to “justify illegal arrests.”

Among the cases he cited are the arrest of Cebu-based artist Ma. Victoria Beltran and the fatal shooting for former soldier Winston Ragos.

“That is why my proposal is to delete the enter section 6 of the Act,” he added.

Section 6 of RA 11469 discusses penalities and the list of acts it penalizes.

The senator also pointed out that those arrested as quarantine violators were driven by their hunger and lack of jobs.

“The quarantine violators are motivated and driven by reason of hunger, income, not because they are criminals,” Drilon added.

He also said that some of the acts penalized in the Bayanihan Act are also punished in other laws such as the price manipulation.

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PNP: Other laws made under different law

Police General Archie Gamboa said in the same hearing that cops are “very keen” in charging those arrested in violation of the Bayanihan law.

Gamboa, also PNP chief, said: “If we run through the cases that have been filed... we have not actually used [RA] 11469, because I have actually dissected this (law)... we need deputation of other government agencies for the PNP to function.”

He explained that they often charge violators with RA 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act” or the Revised Penal Code.

Asked if he agrees with the repeal of the provision, Gamboa said he will submit to the wisdom of the Senate.

The STAR reported on May 22 that since March 17, a total of 177,540 people have been accosted by state forces for allegedly defying quarantine protocols, 52,535 of whom were detained. — Kristine Joy Patag

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