Gov’t assures citizens’ rights protection as pandemic control measures are enforced

Published July 22, 2020, 3:17 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, July 22, assured the public that their rights will continue to be protected amid the implementation of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“The rule of law is not suspended during the pandemic,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said during “Tatak Pagbabago 2020: The Pre-SONA (State of the Nation Address) Forum.”

As a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Guevarra said the DOJ “ensures that whenever stringent measures are being considered by the IATF in order to prevent the transmission of the virus, the constitutional rights of the people are also protected.”

“So we factor in during our discussions measures on how to ensure that certain rights of the people, for example right to travel, right to privacy, right to free exercise of religion, right to peaceful assembly and so forth and so on, are also respected,” the secretary stated.

Guevarra pointed out it is the “utmost necessity that law and order be maintained and preserved during critical times such as during the public health emergency or state of national calamity.”

“In this regard, the DOJ continues to perform its role in administering criminal justice in an even more stringent and innovative manner,” he said.

The secretary said the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service (NPS) continues to perform its duties by allowing online inquest services and electronic filing of complaints in areas where there are good internet connection.

“Our prosecutors continue to appear and perform their roles during trial or court proceedings either by videoconferencing or actually appearing in court if the court requires so,” he noted.

Guevarra said the DOJ’s investigative arm, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has “targeted its efforts in the investigation of offenses which are connected with the pandemic most notably cases pertaining or complaints pertaining to hoarding, overpricing, profiteering, violation of the cash aid [program]…violation of quarantine protocols and so forth.”