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Protocol violators face jail time – Panelo

He said organizers of ‘super-spreader’ events can be charged with reckless imprudence, depending on the gravity of the effect of the mass gatherings

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The President’s chief legal counsel warned violators of mass gathering prohibitions that they are liable under the Revised Penal Code and may be charged in court.

In his online program “Counterpoint,” Secretary Salvador Panelo backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the violators to be arrested after several parties were blamed for the Covid-19 spread.

At least 55 residents tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a pool party and drinking session in Nagkaisang Nayon in Quezon City.

“President Duterte asked my opinion last Wednesday on the legality of ordering the arrest of individuals involved in a mass gathering. I told him that there is no need for a new law since they can be charged for crimes under the Revised Penal Code,” Panelo said.

Panelo added that the organizers of “super-spreader” events can be charged with reckless imprudence, depending on the gravity of the effect of the mass gatherings.

“It will depend on the violation. If it is proven that you caused the spread of the virus, you can be charged with reckless imprudence,” Panelo said, adding it could range from physical injuries and even multiple homicides if people die or fall ill.

He emphasized that those violators can be jailed, contrary to claims that the violations do not carry prison terms. Panelo said Duterte adopted his legal position on the matter.
“President Duterte is tired of reminding the public on the need to follow the health protocols. He is more concerned with the safety of the majority of Filipinos,” Panelo said.
Duterte also ordered the arrest of barangay captains who will fail to strictly implement the health protocols.

Panelo assured that legal processes will be followed once a person is arrested for violation of mass gathering. “If you are arrested, you will be charged and authorities should ensure that there is enough evidence to prove your guilt,” he explained.

He also backed Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año in calling for barangay captains who fail to prevent mass gatherings to resign.

“Barangay captains should not use an excuse that his area of jurisdiction is big. The local executives should implement a system to monitor these violations,” he noted.
Panelo said the public should not waste the achievement of the government in bringing down the cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.

“As we can see, the country’s situation has improved after the implementation of lockdowns in the NCR Plus bubble. If we continue to violate health protocols, we may return to stricter community quarantine,” he said.

Aside from the pool party in Quezon City, at least 16 individuals who joined a mass gathering at Gubat sa Cuidad in Caloocan City tested positive for Covid-19.

Barangay officials are also facing charges after a picnic was held at the Bakas River in Barangay Matictic, Norzagaray, Bulacan on 23 May 2021, in violation of IATF health protocols and local ordinances.

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