MANILA - The Philippines should pass a quarantine law that will penalize individuals who breach isolation protocols instead of charging them with murder, a Palace spokesman said Wednesday.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte said he agrees with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo's proposal that quarantine violators be charged with murder.
Duterte spokesman Harry Roque disagreed with Panelo, saying murder would require intent to kill and qualifying circumstances which cannot be proved when a virus carrier infects others.
"That’s why I’ve reiterated we still need a quarantine law to remove once and for the legal basis for holding individuals criminally liable for breaches of minimum health requirements," he told ANC's Headstart.
Roque, who had twice contracted COVID-19, said charging quarantine violators with reckless imprudence would be "more in point."
"The ideal is to have a separate quarantine law. But I think we do have functional equivalent, existing statutes, provisions in RPC for disobedience to lawful orders given by persons in authorities that could also be a basis in addition to reckless imprudence," he said.
Roque cited the AIDS Policy Act, which he authored during his tenure as a lawmaker, which criminalizes the act of knowingly infecting someone else with the disease.
"You are obliged to report to the DOH (Department of Health) if you have a communicable disease. Failure to do so also has a penal provision. I don’t think we should be talking about homicide or murder at this point," he said.
The Philippines on Tuesday logged 4,777 more COVID-19 cases, the lowest in 2 weeks, raising its total to 1,280,773. Of this figure, 56,452 were active cases, 22,064 were deaths, and 1,202,257 were recoveries.