By Atty Oliver Olaybal
A second look at the lockdown ordered by the national government, would disclose that lockdown could only be done on the basis of the martial law powers of the President.
No one could be lawfully detained without a court-issued warrant, unless the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.
The people cannot be detained en masse, without martial law being declared, or without the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus being suspended by the President himself.
The declaration of lockdown is therefore unconstitutional. It constitutes mass arrest or mass detention. Imagine, the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of every Filipino is now in the hands of Barangay Tanods.
The need to follow the procedure prescribed by the Constitution is the responsibility to be exacted from the President in the exercise of his martial law powers.
First. The Constitution has provided congressional oversight as safeguard for martial law declaration.
Second. If the evil sought to be avoided is person-to-person viral transfer, Barangay authorities should not be issuing “passes”, otherwise they will unduly prolong viral infection.
Third. Guidelines must be provided on how to feed the people who are locked down in every barangay. Covid-19 is not a 24-hour typhoon-damage, where only political supporters are to receive relief goods. This is organized lockdown where no one knows when the viral attack will abate.
Fourth. A martial law declaration will enable the national government to commandeer private properties and means of transportation for the use of the people covered by the lockdown, especially on the need to procure and distribute food to the detainees. Food distribution will prevent or avoid food riots. Any rumors on distribution of foodstuffs at the barangay hall could cause food riot where social distancing might cause some to infect others.
Fifth. The government should now activate NDRRMC to enable the Defense Secretary to provide tasking to all the members, especially the secretaries of DILG, DOH, DTI, DOTC, DBM, DOLE etc. to orchestrate the response of the entire government, without Karlo Nograles holding press conferences (he is not even a member of NDRRMC).
Sal Panelo, must advise the President on the need to follow the Constitution and RA 10121 whose structure for disaster response is already in place.