Legazpi City EO restricts rights of abode, travel, privacy of residents in barangays

By Reynard Magtoto

LEGAZPI CITY – Executive Order No. 36-2017 here curtails the constitutionally enshrined rights of abode, travel and privacy of residents in barangays just to maintain peace and order according to National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

According to NUPL statement, the Legazpi City Mayor overreached jumping in his executive order under the pretext of maintaining peace and order and preventing criminality.

“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,” the statement said.

The EO stated that a mechanism for an inter-barangay travel registration must be in place to protect the barangays from drug user or pushers, criminals and other unwanted personalities.

Every person traveling to another barangay of which a person is not a resident of and is staying at the said barangay for 24 hours or more is required to register its name, duration and purpose of travel or stay, at the respective barangay hall.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal ordered the chairman and officials of each barangay to create and maintain a record of all individuals who are not residents of their barangay indicating their names, duration, and purpose of travel or stay.

Any individual registered who is suspected to be a criminal, drug personality or person exhibiting suspicious behavior should be immediately reported by any barangay official to the nearest police station.

“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.”

According to Atty. Bart Rayco of NUPL – Albay, 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?”

“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,” Rayco added.

Residents in Bgy. Bogtong, Legazpi city already received the copy of EO on Thursday, September 21 around 5 pm, and gathered negative reactions.

Jessica Imperial, resident of Bgy. Bogtong, expressed herself in facebook post that her rights are being violated.

“We say that we are not in a martial law but what is this?? I am already 40 years old and this is the very first time that I ever heard of this. Honestly, who in the world would want their rights to be curtailed in the pretext of war on drugs, safety and security?? Please do not tell me that if you are not doing anything illegal then you should not be afraid. What kind of logic is this? What is wrong with govt just following the basic law of the country which is the Constitution? We may have good intentions but in so doing we must put importance in the rights of the people,” Imperial posted.

Imperial said she understand the need for more stringent security measures. But by doing so, she fervently hope that the government will not forget the basic rights of the people as stated in the Constitution.

“Your right stops when it already violates the rights of another. Maybe this should need further studies and consultation,” she said.

Since the EO does not have a penalty, it is the prerogative of the respective barangay on how to implement it. According to Imperial, they have to register with the barangay those who will stay for 24 hrs or more in their house otherwise there will be a fine of not more than 1000 pesos per day.

“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,” NUPL stated. (BaretangBikolnon.com)

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