By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra reminded that criminal laws have not been suspended despite community quarantines and health measures being imposed by the national and local governments to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Our criminal laws are not suspended during times of emergency,” Guevarra said.
“Otherwise, we will have a breakdown of law and order,” he warned.
With this, Guevarra pointed out “law enforcement, prosecution, and court adjudication structures and procedures will just have to make the necessary adjustments, no matter how difficult it may be.”
The Secretary already ordered the closure of all prosecution offices nationwide starting Monday, March 23, following the directive Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta who ordered all courts nationwide to shut down.
Both Guevarra and Peralta instructed prosecutors and magistrates, respectively, that they will remain on call on urgent matters.
Previously, Guevarra warned that charges will be filed against those who will be found defying government measures against COVID-19.
Aside from violating ordinances, he noted that these persons could be charged, among others, with resistance and disobedience to a person in authority under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), and for non-cooperation under Section 9 of Republic Act 11332, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.