As Covid-19 cases continue to improve slightly in NCR Plus, coronavirus infections are going up in other regions in the Philippines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque reported at last night’s weekly Talk to the People broadcast. In response, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo outlined legal penalties that could await health protocol violators.
“Patuloy na nagpapakita ng pagtaas ng kaso sa Visayas and Mindanao kung saan mas mabilis ang pagtaas nitong nakaraang linggo sa Visayas habang ang Mindanao ay malapit na sa bilang ng rest of Luzon,” said Sec. Duque, talking over a slide presentation. (“A rise in cases n Visayas and Mindanao continues to be seen, where there is a faster increase over the past week in Visayas, while Mindanao nears the count in the rest of Luzon.”)
There is an overall increase in the Philippines’ coronavirus cases over the past month, the Health secretary said, reiterating that Mindanao has surpassed NCR in recorded number of cases.
After hearing updates from other Cabinet members, President Rodrigo Duterte, host of the weekly late-night talk show, wrapped up the evening by turning to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. “Sal, you have something to say to the Filipino people…I’m sure,” said Duterte.
“Palagay ko, yung suliranin natin, hindi nababago. Nandun pa rin yung mga lumalabag sa ating mga health protocols. At nandun pa rin yung katanungan, anong puedeng gawin sa mga taong ito na pilit na ipag-walang bahala ang mga direktiba ng ating pamahalaan,” Panelo said. (“I think nothing has changed with the crisis. There are still those who flout health protocols. And there is still the question of what can be done about these people who ignore our government’s directives.”)
While Panelo said he has spoken about the charging quarantine violators with reckless imprudence under Article 356 of the revised penal code, this time he adds that there are more serious charges that could be laid out, including charges of murder.
First, Panelo explained, quarantine violators may be charged with disobedience to authority under Article 151 of the penal code. He also says that people who are infected with Covid-19 may also be charged under Republic Act 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
The legal counsel then also explained that, besides reckless imprudence, a person might be charged with murder if he knowingly goes out while infected with the coronavirus. “Pero kung alam niya po, pumunta siya sa isang lugar, alam niyang may sakit siya ng coronavirus at nakahawa siya at namatay, ay ‘yan po ay talagang sadyang pagpatay ‘yan. Papasok po ‘yan sa murder sapagkat intentional,” Panelo stressed. (“But if one knows and goes to a place, while knowing that he is sick with coronavirus, and he transmits the disease and [somebody] dies, that is intentional killing. That falls under murder because it is intentional.”)
The president, who himself comes from a legal background, agreed: “Maybe if it is intentional, malayo ‘yan pero it could be murder, sabi nga ni Sal; at kung hindi, iyang reckless imprudence would really mas swak doon sa sitwasyon na ‘yon.” (“Maybe it were intentional, it isn’t likely but it could be murder, as Sal said. And if not, reckless imprudence would really be more suitable for that situation.”)
The president warned the public that government response might have to be ramped up. “We might calibrate our response to the intransigence that you will show.”
Other stories you may want to read:
Sec. Harry Roque clarifies allowed activities under GCQ for the next two weeks
Time’s Running Out: Metro Manila to ramp up vaccination due to looming AstraZeneca expiration
DFA Advisory: 2 new Covid-19 cases among Filipinos abroad, 6 new recoveries
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!