Palace: Warrantless arrest for barangay captains at scene of mass gatherings
MANILA, Philippines — The warrantless arrest of barangay captains may be carried out if they are at the scene of a mass gathering but did not do anything to prevent the violation, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday morning.
Roque backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the police to arrest erring barangay captains first in case of mass gatherings in areas under their jurisdiction due to dereliction of duty.
“Under our rule of court, there are instances when warrantless arrests could be performed by law enforcement agents and the only ground in fact is when the law enforcement person is personally witnessing a crime,” Roque said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“If there is, for instance a super spreader event ongoing such as what happened to that swimming pool, and the barangay captain is in the area and knows about it, then that in fact is an indication that he personally knew about the breach being committed and did nothing, that would be sufficient for a warrantless arrest on the basis of dereliction of duty,” Roque pointed out.
The President issued the order during a taped meeting aired late Wednesday after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reported about recent mass gatherings, including a pool party in Quezon City that led to the COVID-19 infection of at least 54 persons.
Pressed if a barangay chief has to be at the scene to be arrested, Roque answered in the affirmative.
But what if the barangay chief was not present at the mass gathering?
“In which case, the normal procedure would have to be followed. There would have to be a formal case to be filed before the prosecutor’s office,” Roque said.
“The barangay captain will be given the opportunity to be heard and if there’s probable cause then it will be filed in court. At which time, the court can issue then a warrant of arrest,” he added.
Roque added that guests and even owners of the mass gathering’s venue are also liable “because they are committing a breach of health protocol.”
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