ARTICLE 3, Section 4 of the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution provides that: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
In one case, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled that the power to regulate the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly and other constitutional rights is termed the sovereign “police power,” which is the power to prescribe regulations, to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety, and general welfare of the people. This sovereign police power is exercised by the government through its legislative branch by the enactment of laws regulating those and other constitutional and civil rights, and it may be delegated to political subdivisions, such as towns, municipalities, and cities authorizing their legislative bodies, called municipal and city councils to enact ordinances for the purpose.
To date, there has been no clear law, in the exercise of the police power of the state, to regulate the right of the people to peaceful assembly amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though participants observed the recommendations of the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus during peaceful assembly, police officers are very aggressive in quelling these peaceful gatherings. This makes us wonder whether our constitutional right to peaceably assemble, in times of public health emergency, is suspended automatically without a law to that effect. It is our opinion that resolutions, executive orders and recommendations are not enough to warrant arrest and deprive anybody of their constitutional rights. We are one on this fight against coronavirus but first let us make it proper.