MANILA – More than a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his decision to place Metro Manila on community quarantine and a little over 24 hours before it takes effect on March 15, government officials still could not say when any document will be released.
“Let's wait for the issuance from the OES (Office of the Executive Secretary),” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Friday night.
But the justice chief was able to confirm the issuance will come in the form of a memorandum to be issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea "by authority of the President."
Duterte, in his speech Thursday night, said he will issue an executive order. But Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told radio DZMM immediately after that a memorandum will suffice. A memo does not require publication unlike an executive order.
Guevarra echoed Nograles’ position.
“The IATF (inter-agency task force) reso need not be converted to an EO (executive order). Once adopted by the President, it becomes a direct order issued pursuant to the state’s police power in a state of public health emergency,” he said.
Guevarra said the memo will not necessarily use the same language as IATF reso but "the clarifications and guidelines agreed upon today may also be incorporated."
He added, Proclamation 922 will be cited.
The proclamation, signed by Duterte on March 8, declared a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19.
Guevarra cited the legal bases for the presidential issuance.
“My only point is that this issuance, in whatever form, merely memorializes what the president has directly ordered last night. The constitutional basis may be gleaned from Art II, secs 5 & 15; also Art III, sec 6,” he said.
Sec. 5 of Art. II of the 1987 Consti refers to the State policy of maintaining peace and order, protecting life, liberty and property and promotion of general welfare. Sec. 15 refers to State policy to protect and promote the right to health of the people.
Sec. 6 of Art. III of the Constitution meanwhile provides that the interest of public health may allow impairment of the people's right to travel.
MEDIALDEA ACKNOWLEDGES GAPS
In a statement, Medialdea said they are now in the process of crafting a memorandum which will "fill in the gaps" in the IATF resolution.
Among these gaps, defining what a community quarantine is and what mass gatherings are.
He also referred to questions about NCR residents having clients or work outside NCR or those living outside but have work in NCR.
Medialdea also quoted questions about how to prove they have work or clients in NCR.
“These are very important questions. Clearly, something has to be done. If we want to elicit the people’s cooperation, we have to clarify these matters. If they do not cooperate, the measures will not succeed. It is that simple. Our law enforcers can only do so much,” he said in a message to "colleagues in government” which appears to have been sent Friday morning.
A copy of the message was provided to the media.
He acknowledged these issues should have ideally been anticipated even as the IATF resolution was being crafted.
“I would like to think that they were anticipated, but that due to the urgency, a resolution was passed even while being silent on these questions,” he explained.
Medialdea did not mention when the memorandum will be released but said his deputies are leading the effort.
“My request to everyone here today is to take a step back, consider carefully what the situation warrants, and only then propose measures to confront the crisis we are now in,” he said.
“The virus is the biggest and most urgent problem the government is facing right now, but let us remember that we also have our people’s livelihoods to consider. Any measure that will impoverish them will be seen as a cure worse than the disease,” he added.