Friday, May 1, 2020

Arrests during community quarantine period.

Article 151 ("RESISTANCE" and "DISOBEDIENCE" to a person in authority or the agents of such person) of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who not being included in the provisions of the preceding articles "shall RESIST or SERIOUSLY DISOBEY any person in authority, or the agents of such person, WHILE ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES."

"Resistance" and "serious disobedience" are essential elements of the felony.

Further, such acts must be committed against a person in authority or his agent "while engaged in the performance of official duties".

All things being equal, an ordinary citizen who violates a community QUARANTINE without performing acts of "resistance" and "serious disobedience" against a person in authority or his agent "while performing official duties" may not be indicted and convicted for violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code.

Further, it should be stressed that Section 4 (i) of R.A. No. 11332, otherwise known as the "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act", commands the authorities "to respect to the fullest extent possible, the RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE TO LIBERTY, BODILY INTEGRITY, and PRIVACY while maintaining and preserving public health and security."

Section 6 (h) of RA 11332, which repeats the foregoing Section 4 (i) of the law, likewise provides that "all personnel of the DOH and its local counterparts, and all other individuals or entities involved in conducting disease surveillance and response activities SHALL RESPECT, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT POSSIBLE, THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE TO LIBERTY, BODILY INTEGEOTT AND PRIVACY while maintaining and preserving public health and security."

Under Section 9 (d) and (e) of RA 11332, among other things, the following are declared as "prohibited acts":

"(d) NON-COOPERATION of persons and entities THAT SHOULD REPORT AND/OR RESPOND to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and


"Notifiable disease" is defined by Section 3 (j) of RA 11332 as
"a disease that, by legal requirements, must be reported to the public health authorities".

"Health event of public concern" is defined in Section 3 (g) of RA 11332 as "either a public health emergency or a public health threat due to biological, chemical, radio-nuclear and environmental agents."

Under Section 4 (h) of RA 11332 the Department of Health (DOH) may require the following parties and entiies "to actively participate in disease surveillance and response", namely: ".. public and private physicians, allied medical personnel, professional societies, hospitals, clinics, health facilities, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, private companies and institutions, workplaces, schools, prisons, ports, airports, establishments, communities, other government agencies, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs)..."

The foregoing enumeration of parties and entities does not include ordinary citizens.

Section 10 (Penalties) of RA 11332, among other things, provides that "any person or entity found to have violated Section 9 of this Act shall be penalized with a fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) but not more than Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court."

It is noteworthy to state that Sections 9 (prohibited acts) and 10 (penalties) of RA 11332 do not contain an express provison specifically penalizing a simple violation of a community QUARANTINE by an ordinary citizen who does not have or is NOT infected by a "notifiable disease" or who is NOT "affected by a health event of publci concern."

Read RA 11332 -