Differences in LGU ordinances require uniform enforcement guideline – DOJ

Published June 1, 2021, 3:19 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Differences in local government ordinances on health protocols nationwide require a uniform guideline on enforcement, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Tuesday, June 1.

This was pointed out by Guevarra as he, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Ano and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar signed during a virtual event on Tuesday, June 1, the joint memorandum circular (JCM) on the guidelines on the arrest and investigation of violators of health and quarantine protocols.

“Hindi rin exactly the same ang mga regulations sa bawat syudad at municipality kaya maaaring magkaroon ng confusion sa ating mga law enforcement agents (The regulations in every city and municipality are not the same so there may be confusion among law enforcement agents),” he said during the online press conference after the JCM signing.

“Kaya kinakailangan na magkaroon ng very definitive guidelines para hindi malito ang pag-iimplementa nitong mga various ordinances na ito (That’s why there is a need for definitive guidelines so there will be no confusion in the implementation of the various ordinances on health protocols),” he explained.

At the same time, Guevarra stressed the need for law enforcement agents to know the local ordinances under their respective jurisdictions.

“Dapat familiar at alam na alam kung ano ang ordinansa tungkol sa health protocols doon sa particular na lugar na iyon (They should be familiar and know well the ordinances on health protocols in their respective jurisdictions),” he said.

“Yun para sa akin ay napaka-importante dahil hindi po pwedeng kumilos, hindi pwedeng mag-implementa, hindi pwedeng mag-enforce ang ating law enforcement agents ng mga bagay na hindi naman nilalaman ng isang ordinansa (That for me is very important because law enforcement can’t enforce what is not contained in these ordinances),” he added.

He noted that the JCM is an “internal guideline” meant as guide in enforcing already existing regulations.

“Wala naman kaming mga bagong regulasyon o kautusan or in the form of a substantive law na dinadagdag dito sa internal guidelines na ito (No new laws or regulations have been added in the guidelines),” he assured.

Though it is considered an “internal guideline,” Guevarra emphasized that it is also important for the public to know so they would know what to do in the event they are approached by law enforcement over violations.

“The responsibilities and duties of the DILG and the PNP and the DOJ are spelled out in general in these guidelines,” he said.

“On the part of the DOJ, our main involvement is in connection with the inquest proceedings” (when a violator is investigated by a prosecutor), Guevarra noted.

The legal framework of the guidelines is based on Executive Order No. 112 that President Duterte signed last year. The EO adopted and turned into law the omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Hindi magtatapos sa executive order ang legal framework dahil kailangan iimplementa yan sa iba’t ibang municipalities and cities. Kaya ang ating cities and municipalities ay kinailangan namang maglabas ng ordinansa (It does not end with the executive order as legal framework and it needs to be implemented by the different municipalities and cities. That’s why our cities and municipalities need to come up with ordinances),” he explained.