Justice Secretary Guevarra, a member of the COVID-19 task force, said he proposed the penalty of community service instead of fines or jail time “because life is tough these days.”
Guevarra’s statement seemed to be a reversal of his previous position that quarantine violators could be punished under various laws given the gravity of the situation.
But rather than rely on The Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act or Republic Act 11332, Guevarra said local ordinances are the better basis for implementing quarantine measures because these are “very direct to the point.”
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers welcomed the DOJ’s proposal.
“At long last. It is a positive idea.” NUPL president Edre Olalia said, in a statement.
“Yet, looking back, it is not only enraging but tragic that hundreds of our citizens who do not have the same entitlements as those in or close to the corridors of power had to endure this manifest injustice through a patently erroneous reading and misapplication of a vague law to justify harsh implementation of quarantine protocols at best and cover up repressive measures at worst,” he added.
“That it [has taken more] than a year to have an epiphany says a lot about the mess we are all in,” he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier reported that 1.5 million violations of health protocols were recorded between Aug. 20, 2020 and March 23, 2021.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday said it has ordered the PNP to investigate the death of a man in Cavite after he was allegedly ordered to do intense physical exercise as a punishment for violating quarantine rules.
It added that the local government unit will look into the liability of the village officials over the incident.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said based on initial investigation, General Trias police chief, Lt. Col. Marlo Solero denied imposing physical exercise as a sanction for quarantine violators.
Reports said Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, 28, died after reportedly being forced to do a body pumping exercise 300 times before being freed. He was earlier arrested for violating quarantine rules on Maundy Thursday.
The victim was released on Good Friday but suffered a convulsion, went into a coma and died later in the day.
Solero earlier said they have no records showing that Manaog was arrested on April 1. However, investigations showed that watchmen in Barangay Tejero arrested Peñaredondo. His live-in partner, Reichelyn
Balce, said he was arrested by village watchmen on April 1 when he went out to buy mineral water. He was then taken to the General Trias police station.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Solero said he has already obtained the death certificate of the quarantine violator and would divulge the cause of death once he gets clearance from his higher-ups.
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