Legazpi City’s EO 36-2017: Unwarranted, overreaching, prelude to more abuses--NUPL

LEGAZPI CITY 9/27/17 (Bicol Standard)--"Executive Order No. 36-2017 is a curtailment of the constitutionally enshrined rights of abode, travel and privacy. The Legazpi City Mayor overreached jumping in his executive order under the pretext of maintaining peace and order and preventing criminality," Atty. Bart Rayco of the National Union of People's Lawyers Albay said in a press statement.

Said Executive Order penalizes residents for not registering visitors staying for 24 hours.

Otherwise known as "An Executive Order Prescribing Guidelines for the Inter-Barangay Travel Registration Mechanism," the Executive Order says that registration of visitors is needed to achieve a crime- and drug-free country, and to protect barangays from drug users and pushers, as well as from criminals and other unwanted personalities.

Rayco, in response to the Executive Order, added: "The requirement of logging at the barangay curtails the freedom of movement and liberty of abode and encroaches on the privacy of the people, the limitation/s to which has already been provided by the Constitution and is not within the discretion of any local government official to regulate without a valid basis.

That it is akin to signing and logging in when one visits government offices is an off beam comparison. It is certainly not similar to a visit to a relative or friend based on a very plain reason: the first is official business while the second is private.

Just because it does not impose any penalty does not mean we will let sleeping dogs lie because it is an attack to our freedoms.

The EO’s directive for the barangay officials to maintain a logbook of the individual staying in the barangay premises for 24 hours or more and the reporting of presence of individuals based on the very broad term ‘suspicion’ coupled with the present situation of extrajudicial killings and rights violations in the course of war against drugs makes the people ask, "Are we under Martial Law? Or is Martial Law brewing up in Legazpi as well?”

Its vagueness makes it more evil because it leaves implementation, at a very wide discretion, on the hands of enforcement and barangay officials.
“This is another ill-advised Big Brother scheme under the guise of order but without peace. It is in open violation not only of the fundamental right to privacy but also freedom to travel and liberty of abode. Indeed it is open to question of constitutionality. The problem really is that national and local government officials and public officers take their cue and are emboldened by the draconian gimmicks and fascist fantasies of the national leadership”, NUPL President Edre Olalia said.

He added, “Duterte has sent the signal that brazen and orchestrated violations of individual rights is the new normal and you can let it slide in the name of the fight against criminality and drugs.”

The fight against drugs and maintenance of peace and order is for the people to enjoy a peaceful life and their civil liberties. Thus, an order or any law for that matter should not run roughshod over the constitutional rights of the people.

EO 36-2017 is an overreached hind feet of the state that hurts the freedoms of its own people. Because, clearly, the order has no basis; it is unwarranted. It does not bring order. Worse, it fuels the fan of fire for more abuses because of its vagueness. It sets a very bad precedent and a prelude to more rights violations."