THE SITUATION. Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said Sunday, June 7, that without Bayanihan Two to replace the law that punishes violations of the community quarantine, there is no more law to support any CQ arrest.
Congress adjourned Thursday, June 4, without passing the law. President Duterte didn't certify it as urgent, which would've enabled its rapid approval.
There is no national law to base the quarantine arrest. How about the city ordinance? The Inter-Agency Task Force for Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has instructed local governments to pass the ordinance to enforce quarantine guidelines in their respective localities.
Stuck in City Council
In Cebu City, the proposed ordinance principally authored by Councilor David Tumulak was referred to the City Council committee on laws April 22, which conducted a public hearing last May 13, according to information sourced to Atty. Charisse Piramide, City Council secretary.
Apparently, there's no rush to pass the ordinance. Maybe because the lockdown has been gradually eased in phases: from enhanced to general to modified general, then eventually to zero quarantine. Or maybe, at least in the Senate, the punitive provisions are blamed for the "serious cases of abuse and inequity in the implementation of the law."
Effect on arrests
Even without Bayanihan Two (Bayanihan to Recover as One), after the lapse of Bayanihan One (Bayanihan to Heal as One), Drilon believes the government can still implement the activities to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to spur the country's economy.
What is clear by now, though initially disputed by Malacañang, is that Bayanihan One "was about granting emergency powers" and the law expired when Congress adjourned. (A "sunset provision" pushed by the Palace spokesman would've extended the law's life until June 25.)
In Cebu City, technically no arrests were made under the city ordinance, which is still stuck in the City Council, or even under Bayanihan One. Those detained were just lectured, or publicly warned on live-streamed program, or, minority Councilor Alvin Dizon sees as a possibility, made to dance the Sinulog before being sent home.
The arrest of eight protesters by the police last Friday, June 5, in the premises of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, was initially billed as police action against the quarantine ban on mass gathering of more than 10 persons. When it filed the charges, however, police dropped the Bayanihan law, a recognition that it is no longer in force.
Police can still stop you
No more arrest for sharing fake news, violating the curfew, or mass gathering (such as filling a church to capacity). The law is dead. And the ordinance, at least in Cebu City, is still in the mill.
That doesn't mean though police or tanod patrols or checkpoints cannot validly stop persons on the streets and determine why they are out of their homes. There has been no order dismantling border checkpoints and roving law enforcers. Besides, stop-and-accost is regular police activity to prevent crime, with or without any health emergency.
And the twist -- starting with no quarantine law to detain you -- police can find other laws if, say, you join a mass gathering without permit or refuse to submit to physical restraint, which opens the charge of simple disobedience or assault of a person in authority.
Fears and threat
Law enforcers would shift back to the early phase of the quarantine when Congress still hadn't passed the Bayanihan One and no ordinance was even filed in the city legislature yet.
Most people would comply even without the threat of punishment by jail or fine, as long as fear of the coronavirus would still be there.
Yet neither jail and fine nor the plague could keep out people who need to work and earn a living. Threat of loss of livelihood could drive away all those fears.