Lacson: Without ordinances, PNP may not be legally equipped to conduct arrests
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has warned the Philippine National Police (PNP) that arresting loiterers while Metro Manila is on a community quarantine due to the COVID-19 threat may have no legal basis behind it.
According to Lacson — a former PNP chief himself — the laws being used to effect the partial lockdown of the National Capital Region (NCR) are outdated, and does not say anything about movement of people on the streets.
“As the ‘community quarantine’ to address the COVID-19 threat starts, the Philippine National Police should exercise caution in handling the situation,” he said in a statement. “Republic Act 9271, the Quarantine Act of 2004 – replacing a very old Republic Act 123 of 1947 – is silent on the movements of persons in the streets as it only covers domestic and international seaports and airports.”
“Hence, law enforcement authorities may not be legally equipped to conduct arrest unless local ordinances are available for its enforcement,” he added.
Prior to the lockdown’s effectivity on Sunday as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, several individuals became wary of possible arrests as rumors of a Metro-wide curfew came from various government officials.
However, Malacañang said that Duterte has not yet considered an NCR curfew, although Metro Manila mayors are leaning towards it.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas clarified though that no arrests would be made as there is law being violated of people traveling while on a community quarantine, unless people commit bribery or direct assault.
According to Lacson, they may be a need to amend the law to make it suitable for the situation. As of Sunday morning, there are already 111 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with at least eight people dead.
Worldwide, over 152,000 persons have been infected with the latest coronavirus strain, claiming 5,801 lives — the bulk of which coming from China, the virus’ place of origin.
“For its part, Congress may need to amend R.A. 9271 to adapt to this new normal, the COVID-19, and God knows what else would come to hit us in the future. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of its kind even as we pray that cure will come sooner than soon,” Lacson explained.
“Having said that, the people are enjoined to fully cooperate. After all, these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures,” he added.
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