2 Cebu-based lawyers to continue with petition

EVEN after President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not follow any court order that will suspend the implementation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ international arrival protocol amid a national emergency, lawyer Clarence Paul Oaminal said his petition to declare IATF Resolution 114 “inapplicable” and “ineffective” in Cebu Province’s jurisdiction will continue.

Oaminal, who filed the petition with lawyer Valentino Bacalso Jr. in their capacity as taxpayers, said “the President’s opinion has no bearing on the case.”

“Yes, certainly (we will continue). In fact, there will be a hearing next week,” he told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

The petition, which supports Provincial Ordinance 2021-04, was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 on Monday, June 21.

Oaminal and Bacalso also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order while it resolves their petition.

Oaminal said Duterte’s statement is “immaterial” for it is the court that will decide on the matter.

“It is the reason why we have courts to decide questions or conflicting views of a certain law or regulation,” he said.

President Duterte, also a lawyer by profession, said last Monday that he respects the judiciary and assured that he will follow any court order, but not when there is an ongoing pandemic.

“At this time of a national emergency, I would just like to inform the courts that I will not follow them. I will insist on what is necessary to protect the people,” he said.

Oaminal and Bacalso argued that Provincial Ordinance 2021-04 is a valid local legislation with Executive Order 17 being a valid exercise of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia under the Local Government Code of 1991.

They said the court should declare Resolution 114 “unforceable” in Cebu Province because the governor and the Provincial Board have the “inherent authority to respond and protect the people of Cebu from a public health emergency.”

Resolution 114 and Provincial Ordinance 2021-04 provide differing protocols for inbound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Under Resolution 114, all arriving travelers will undergo 14-day quarantine period with the first 10 days spent in a quarantine facility, and then the remaining four days to be completed under home quarantine in their respective local government units (LGU) of destination.

The RT-PCR test will be conducted on the seventh day. The travelers will complete the required 10-day facility-based quarantine regardless of a negative test result.

Under the amended Cebu Provincial protocol, upon the release of the traveler’s negative RT-PCR test (taken upon arrival), non-residents of Cebu will be allowed to leave for their LGU of destination that is outside Cebu and the LGU will be responsible for the second RT-PCR test to be conducted on the seventh day of the quarantine period.

Travelers who test negative and who reside in Cebu will be immediately released and allowed to proceed to their LGUs of residence where they will undergo facility or home quarantine for the remaining balance of the 14 days to be monitored by their Barangay Health Emergency Response Team.

They will then be subject to a second RT-PCR on the seventh day of their quarantine period.

If they test positive, the Department of Health’s protocol for coronavirus disease 2019 treatment will be followed. (WBS)