A former Palace official on Sunday defended the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to restrict unvaccinated people from going out of their homes, saying it was part of the President’s duty as head of state.
Senatorial aspirant and former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo defended Duterte after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Duterte’s order to restrict unvaccinated people “violates” the Constitution and human rights.
Panelo said there are provisions in the 1987 Constitution that allow the President to order restrictions in the mobility of unvaccinated people to secure the safety of the general public from the infectious disease.
“Individual freedom to move can be restricted in the name of public health given the presence of the pandemic,” he said in a press statement.
Citing Section 4, Article II of the Constitution, Panelo said the President’s constitutional duty as head of the state is “to serve and protect the people.”
He said the President is likewise constitutionally mandated to “protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them under Section 15, Article II.”
Panelo also cited Section 5, Article II that states as principle and state policy: “the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”
“It will be a dereliction of duty on the part of the President if he fails to undertake appropriate and necessary steps to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons that endangers the safety and general welfare of the people,” he added.
Panelo insisted that the movement restriction order will benefit both those whose movements are impaired as well as those who are not, as the risk of infection of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is “greatly diminished.”
In a pre-recorded public address on Thursday, Duterte urged barangay (village) captains to find unvaccinated individuals in their communities and make sure they stay at home.
“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captain to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just would request them or order them, if you may, to stay put. And if he refuses, he goes out of the house and goes around in the community or maybe wherever magpunta (he goes), he can be restrained,” he said.
“And if he refuses, then the barangay captain being a person in authority, is empowered now to arrest the recalcitrant persons –that is in addition to the police power, the agents of a person in authority,” he added.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said there needs to be a law to make such restrictions legal.
“Presently, there is no law that makes being unvaccinated a crime, nor is there any law that would satisfy the Constitutional provision on curtailing freedom of movement. Any arrest made on these grounds may be illegal; thus, violative of the Constitution and our guaranteed human rights,” she said in a statement.
On Sunday, new Covid-19 cases jumped to 28,707 —the highest daily cases since the pandemic started— bringing the country’s total caseload to 2,965,447.
Source: Philippines News Agency