An organization of lawyers has welcomed the proposal to have violators of health protocols imposed by local government units (LGUs) to just undergo community service as punishment instead of imprisonment or fine.
“At long last. It is a positive idea,” National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre U. Olalia said in a statement.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Monday, April 5, revealed that he has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the penalty of community service to violators of health protocols.
“I informed the IATF that the better legal basis for enforcing health protocols should be the local ordinances that are issued by the local government units because these are very direct to the point,” Guevarra said.
He admitted that there are flaws in arresting and filing charges against violators based on Republic Act No. 11332, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
“Hindi sya talagang very exact to the actual violation kaya we are relying more on the ordinances issued by the local government units rather than a nationwide general statute like RA 11332 (It is not exact as to the actual violation that’s why it would be better to rely on local government ordinances rather than a nationwide general statute like RA 11332),” he explained.
He also said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur D. Abalos Jr. has expressed openness to the proposal.
“We have raised this point as early as March 19 last year,” Olalia said.
“And it has been consistently validated by multiple dismissals of such charges by different prosecutors and judges.” he said as he cited the cases that have been filed against violators of RA 11332.
Olalia lamented that “hundreds of our citizens who do not have the same entitlements as those in or close to the corridors of power had to endure this manifest injustice through a patently erroneous reading and misapplication of a vague law to justify harsh implementation of quarantine protocols at best and cover up repressive measures at worst.”
“That it comes more than a year to have epiphany says a lot about the mess we are all in,” he added.