What you need to know when arrested for quarantine violation
MANILA, Philippines – People arrested for quarantine violations should be subjected to inquest proceedings within the day otherwise they should be released to undergo preliminary investigation, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said following reports that many remain in detention crowding jails and improvised detention facilities.
An inquest is a summary proceeding where the suspect will be informed about his offense and the evidence against him. A suspect undergoes inquest if he was arrested without a warrant during a buy-bust or entrapment operations or caught while doing a crime or is an escapee.
With the imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), many people have been arrested for various offenses such as failure to secure a travel pass, failure to wear a face mask, no barangay quarantine pass, and violating curfews imposed by the city.
Since March 17, the authorities have arrested a total of 177, 540 for violating quarantine protocols, and of this figure, 52,535 have been detained.
In Navotas alone, the city’s detention facility, the Navotas Sports Complex, has over 400 violators, which include 58-year-old fish vendor Mang Dodong. Mang Dodong’s plight was documented in the Facebook post of photojournalist Vincent Go which has been shared 30,800 times, received 727 comments, and 50,800 reactions.
Mang Dodong was arrested in Navotas on May 7 for violating quarantine rules after he failed to present a travel pass that would allow him to cross cities from Caloocan.
It took a week before his family was able to locate him and was able to raise P3,500 for his bail. However, he remained in detention because his family failed to produce a photo of their house which was one of the requirements that needed to be submitted.
Aside from the photo of his house, other requirements for posting bail include four sets of color pictures (front, left and right profile of the accused with signature per photo), certificate of detention, Barangay Certificate of Residence of the Accused, house sketch certified by the Barangay Captain.
“The police should bring persons arrested for quarantine violations to the inquest prosecutor within the day or else release them for regular preliminary investigation at a future time if inquest could not be immediately done,” Guevarra explained.
An individual’s continued detention is allowed only if the accused has signed a waiver of detention under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that a person arrested or detained without a warrant should be placed under the judicial process within 12-36 hours or else they will be released.
The Supreme Court, in a 2017 ruling said: “Such waiver does not vest upon the Department of Justice (DOJ), Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (PPO), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Philippine National Police (PNP) the unbridled right to indefinitely incarcerate an arrested person and subject him to the whims and caprices of the reviewing prosecutor of the DOJ.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as the Supreme Court, has provided measures to avoid crowding of detention facilities such as the conduct of E-inquest, reduction of bail or release on recognizance for indigent detainees, among others.
When asked if the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has set their own bail requirements to include a photo of the detainee’s house like what was asked for Mang Dodong to produce, Guevarra said: “no, only the Supreme Court can set the rules on bail, upon consultations with the DOJ.”
“A photo of the accused’s house is not one of the requirements for bail; the complete residential address of the accused is enough,” he added.
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