The expiration of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, which gave President Rodrigo Duterte special authority to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, does not remove the state’s authority to enforce curfews and prohibit mass gatherings, the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday.
“We note the comments of Senator Franklin Drilon on the effect of the sunset clause in Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
“Although the law has lapsed, it is not accurate to state that the government can no longer enforce curfews or any prohibitions on mass gatherings,” Roque said.
Roque said that local ordinances that remain in effect may still be enforced.
Drilon has insisted that since the Bayanihan law has lapsed, law enforcers can no longer arrest violators of the measure.
“Hindi na pwedeng manghuli dahil sa fake news, hindi na pwedeng manghuli dahil sa lumabag sa curfew. Hindi na pwedeng manghuli ang police dahil sa prohibition against mass gathering. Iyan ay hindi na pwedeng gamitin dahil nag-expire na ang batas,” Drilon said.
Roque said that while the Bayanihan Act may have lapsed, this will not prevent the national government from addressing the threat of COVID-19.
“The President continues to exercise all and every means at his disposal to protect public safety and the lives of our citizenry in the state of public health emergency and the state of calamity which unquestionably exist to this day,” the Presidential spokesman said.
Roque’s statement was supported by Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.
“Contrary to Senator Franklin Drilon’s comment with respect to Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,’ the expiration of the effectivity of the aforesaid law has not affected the state’s authority or the local government’s power to enforce the laws on curfew, mass gathering and the spread of fake news,” Panelo said.
Panelo said Drilon’s comments are not only misplaced but dangerously encourages citizens to engage in acts detrimental to the safety and security of the populace, as well as the peace and order of the nation.
Panelo reminded the public that there still existing laws covering violations which may endanger public safety amid a crisis.
“We remind the good senator, as well as the public, that there are existing laws in place, such as Republic Act No. 11332 or the ‘Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act’ and even Republic Act No. 10175 or the ‘Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,’ which penalize violations thereof with a fine, imprisonment, or both,” he said.
“Similarly, there are ordinances which local government units have enacted that sanction transgressions of their policies which are designed to secure the general welfare of their constituents,” he added.
The local governments in Metro Manila, as well as other cities, have similar ordinances on curfew, according to the Presidential lawyer.
“Violators necessarily are subject to arrest and prosecution. Likewise, there are also ordinances that regulate rallies and demonstrations. Violation of such is likewise subject to arrest and prosecution,” he said./Stacy Ang