Roque says other individuals in these events would also be held liable
MANILA - Barangay leaders who are present at mass gatherings that turn into super-spreader events could be arrested without warrant, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte warned village leaders that they would be the first to be arrested for letting these gatherings take place within their jurisdiction, citing them for dereliction of duty.
Roque noted that law enforcers can perform warrantless arrests if they personally witness a crime.
"If there is for instance, a super-spreader event ongoing, such as what happened in that swimming pool, and the barangay captain is in the area and knows about it, then that in fact is an indication that he personally knew about the breach being committed and did nothing to prevent it. That would be sufficient for a warrantless arrest on the basis of dereliction of duty," he told ANC's Headstart.
Asked again if he meant the barangay chairperson would have to be "at the scene," Roque said yes.
If the leader is not at the scene but allowed the gathering to happen, Roque said the "normal procedure" would have to be followed, where complaints would have to be filed before the prosecutor's office. If there would be probable cause, it would be forwarded to the court and the court would then decide whether or not to issue a warrant of arrest.
He added, the guests in these events and the owner of the place where it was held would also be liable. He said while there is yet to be a national law on quarantine protocols, there are existing ordinances and specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code that outline these.
"The guests themselves would be liable because they are committing the breach of health protocols, which in turn would be a violation of existing ordinances. The owner, of course, would also be complicit, would also be liable on the basis of conspiracy because he allowed the offenses to happen," he said.
Duterte's statement on Wednesday evening followed an pool party in Quezon City, in which 54 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this month, a resort in Caloocan City was shut down after authorities discovered that it was operating despite prevailing quarantine restrictions at that time. At least 20 guests contracted the virus.