Cebu lawyers ask court to declare IATF reso ineffective
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Two Cebu-based lawyers are requesting trial courts here to declare a resolution from the national government’s anti-COVID task force ineffective.
Cebu Lawyers Clarence Paul Oaminal and Valentino Bacalso Jr., through their legal counsel Lawyer Benjamin Cabrido Jr., lodged on Monday, June 21 before the Cebu City Hall of Justice to issue a Declaratory Relief on Resolution No. 114 of the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
IATF Resolution 114, as amended by Resolution No. 116, required arriving Filipinos from abroad to be quarantined for fourteen days upon their arrival wherein 10 days are to be spent in an accredited quarantine facility.
They shall only be swabbed for COVID-19 on the seventh day from their arrival.
Aside from the request for Declaratory Relief, Oaminal and Bacalso is also seeking the court to issue a 72-hour Ex-parte Temporary Restraining Order upon filing the case, and another 20-day TRO while their petition is being heard in the court.
“Mao to nga atong hangyoon ang judge to issue a 72-hour (TRO). Human niana nangayo sad mi nga paminawon among argumento, mutubag sad sila (IATF), anang hearinga muextend siya og 20 ka adlaw. Human na pud sunod hearing nga di ipatuman ang ilahang protocols sa IATF hangtud mahuman nang kasoha,” explained Cabrido.
(That is why we will request the judge to issue a 72-hour (TRO). After that, we will request that the court listens to our argument and they (IATF) will answer, that hearing will extend to 20 daysl. After that, the next hearing will be about not to implement the IATF’s protocols until the case will be resolved.)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, chairperson of the IATF, was named as respondent.
Filing for a Declaratory Relief means that parties are seeking intervention from the judge or court to shed light on legal uncertainties.
In this particular case, they are asking trial courts to declare IATF’s Resolution No. 114 as ‘ineffective and inapplicable’ amid a Provincial Ordinance that contradicts it.
“The IATF Resolution No. 114 including its amendments correlative resolutions cannot supplant Cebu Provincial Ordinance Nos. 2021-04 and its amendatory ordinance numbered 2021-05 while they are still valid and effective within the territorial jurisdiction of Cebu for only the Courts can declare these ordinances invalid or the Sangguniang Panlalawigan abrogates or repeals it,” portions of the 24-page case read.
“In the hierarchy of things, the Constitution reigns supreme, followed by the laws enacted by Congress then the local ordinances. Rules and regulations issued by the national agencies whether individually or collegially do not have the permeating effects as greater than that of a local law or ordinance. At most, these administrative acts are effective only within the sphere of the national agency or agencies under it or under them for implementation,” it added.
Last March, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) No. 17 that would direct all incoming Filipino passengers to be swabbed upon arrival.
It was later known as the province’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, which is a different policy from that of the IATF Resolution 114.
The EO was also later adopted into Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04, as amended by Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-05, formally making the protocols as part of Cebu’s local laws.
The IATF has been insisting local officials here to strictly follow their guidelines instead.
The ‘tug-of-war’ between the local and national governments over Cebu’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy even reached to a point in which the Malacañang ordered the diversion of flights bound for Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila.
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