By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY---With Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal’s executive order (EO) requiring all non-residents of barangay to register there if they are to stay for 24 hours or more, a lawyers’ group slams the order as “unwarranted, overreach, bad precedent and a prelude to more abuses.”
Dated Aug. 22, 2017, Rosal issued EO No. 36-2017 that orders barangay officials of Legazpi City “to create and maintain a record of all individuals who are not residents of their barangay, including their names, duration and purpose of travel or stay.”
The order also requires transients staying in a barangay for a day or more to register before the local authorities within 12 hours upon arrival.
Reacting to Rosal’s executive order, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) headed by lawyer Edre Olalia, national president, and lawyer Bart Rayco, Albay chapter president, dismissed it as “a curtailment of the constitutionally enshrined rights of abode, travel and privacy.”
As a rationale of the EO No. 36-2017 titled “An Executive Order Prescribing Guidelines for Inter-Barangay Travel Registration Mechanism,” the mayor said such order was issued in support of President Duterte’s campaign to eradicate the problems on illegal drugs and criminality.
It is aimed at achieving the goal of a crime and drug-free country by establishing the security of each barangay, the mayor elaborated.
“(I)t is imperative that in order to protect the barangays from drug users and pushers, criminals, and other unwanted personalities a mechanism for the inter-barangay travel registration must be in place.”
Those required to register are persons staying in a different barangay for 24 hours or more.
The EO No. 36-2017 assigned the Office of the Liga ng mga Barangay as the administrator and implementing agency of the Inter-Barangay Travel Registration Mechanism.
But the NUPL criticized Rosal to have “overreached jumping in his executive order under the pretext of maintaining peace and order and preventing criminality.”
The group said that the requirement of logging at the barangay hall curtails the freedom of movement and liberty of abode and encroaches on the privacy of the people in which the limitations had been provided by the Constitution.
“(It) is not within the discretion of any local government official to regulate without a valid basis,” the NUPL said in the statement.
The group also likened the registration mechanism to signing and logging in when one visits government offices.
“It is certainly not similar to a visit to a relative or friend based on a very plain reason: the first is official business while the second is private.”
Even without penalty imposed, the NUPL still slammed Rosal’s EO because they argued that it is “an attack on our freedoms.”