As the “community quarantine” to address the COVID-19 threat starts, the Philippine National Police should exercise caution in handling the situation.
Republic Act 9271, the Quarantine Act of 2004 – replacing a very old Republic Act 123 of 1947 – is silent on the movements of persons in the streets as it only covers domestic and international seaports and airports.
Hence, law enforcement authorities may not be legally equipped to conduct arrest unless local ordinances are available for its enforcement.
For its part, Congress may need to amend R.A. 9271 to adapt to this new normal, the COVID-19, and God knows what else would come to hit us in the future. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of its kind even as we pray that cure will come sooner than soon.
Having said that, the people are enjoined to fully cooperate. After all, these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures.