A lawyer has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to annul the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act in the first known case challenging the Duterte administration’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Lawyer Jaime Ibañez, the former law dean of the Laguna State Polytechnic University, also asked the SC to annul two presidential proclamations and three other issuances in connection with the health emergency.
Ibanez said the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gives President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to address the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, is “partly unconstitutional” in so far as the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Ibañez also asked the SC to nullify the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine and to prohibit the IATF from enforcing them.
Ibanez said that the guidelines are an “invalid delegated legislative authority” and are “violative of individual’s liberty guaranteed under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution.”
Ibanez, in a 9-page petition filed Tuesday, said the law is unconstitutional for granting the president legislative authority to exercise power “other than what is necessary and proper to carry out the declared national policy.”
He said the phrase “for other purposes” in the law constitutes an undue delegation of power.
He also challenged Proclamations No. 929 and 922, which declared a state of calamity and a state of public health emergency in the Philippines, respectively.
“Proclamation No’s. 929 and 922 do not serve the purpose of protecting and promoting the right of people to health much less instilling health consciousness among them,” Ibañez said.
He said these proclamations were made outside of Congress’ declared policy to test, trace and treat COVID-19 patients and persons under investigation and monitoring.
He argued that placing persons not covered by the law into community quarantine is beyond the scope of the legislative policy of the Bayanihan law and “over-intrudes and overburdens individuals right to liberty and to property (including the right to work).”
And because he claimed the law is void, Ibañez said the IATF had no valid authority to issue its Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines.
“The power to make laws can not be delegated. The IATF has no power to define the law on quarantine, set its own parameters and restrictions and to even invent the Modified Enhanced Community [Quarantine] according to its own bizarre definition, which all amount to an exercise of grave abuse of discretion or in excess of its jurisdiction,” he argued.
He also said Executive Order No. 112 and Resolution No. 37, which imposed the ECQ and placed Metro Manila under modified ECQ, respectively, are unconstitutional.
“By and large, putting this country into community quarantine, poses a continuing threat to one’s right to life (including right to work), to liberty and to property,” he said.
He named Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and the IATF as respondents to the petition.
Duterte said last week that all areas in the country will be under modified general community quarantine (GCQ) beginning June 1, except Metro Manila, Regions II, III, IV-A, as well as Pangasinan, Albay, and the cities of Davao, Baguio, and Iloilo, which will be under GCQ.
Cebu City and Mandaue City, Region VII and Zamboanga City will also be under GCQ, according to Malacanang./Stacy Ang