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EDITORIAL: Dumb move to please Duterte

IT CANNOT be dismissed that Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal’s intention of issuing Executive Order No. 36-2017 that requires transients in the city’s barangays to register and provide personal information to the local authorities if they are to stay in the place for 24 hours or more, is to please President Duterte in support of the latter’s war controversial against drug and criminality. In fact, the executive order spelled out that the intention is to support Mr. Duterte’s campaign to eradicate the problem on illegal drugs and criminality. Rosal has overdone his support to Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs and criminality and overfeeds the grounds for impunity to flourish, especially that even after thousands of deaths of suspected drug users and pushers and criminals remain uninvestigated while the victims’ families are left crying for justice because their loved ones died during police operations under dubious circumstances. With the kind of leadership and loyalty Mr. Duterte encourages from anyone who wanted to be ally of his administration, Rosal’s response to the war on drugs and criminality could make the former mayor of Davao City smile and take note of the Legazpi mayor’s unquestioning support to the centerpiece policy of the present administration even at the cost of overdoing the mayor’s prerogatives. But not everyone is not against Rosal’s EO No. 32-2017 as shown by the opinions posted in the social media, although the number condemning it as a clear violation of the Bill Rights was far more in number. Those who support Rosal’s executive order see the move as a way to protect the barangay from trouble the transients with criminal intention might bring to them. On the other hand, such move brings the specter of Martial Law or the rule by a despot. The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) was uncompromising in taking to task Rosal’s executive order. It accuses the Legazpi City Mayor of violating the Constitution, dismissing his move as “unwarranted, overreaching, bad precedent, and a prelude to more abuses.” It will be for the court to decide whether or not the executive order that Rosal has eventually deferred to implement immediately after it came out in the Bicol Mail and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is unconstitutional. Section 6 of Article III, Bill of Rights is, however, clear on the matter as it states: “The liberty of abode and changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel shall be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.” Even if Rosal’s executive order is free from legal impediments, for practical reasons it will be very hard to implement to achieve its intention. It will take so much government resources to even vet individuals going in and out in one barangay to another. How can the barangay authorities, for example, be sure that the names listed are true when the national government itself does not have a database of individuals, permanent or transients, living in one barangay. It will be harder to monitor the traffic of individuals in the business districts where people billet in hotels, inns, motels and lodging houses of the respective barangay. Assuming the city government is allowed to demand the list of its occupants from these accommodation facilities, nobody for sure could determine the authenticity or real identity of the names listed in the hotel guest registry. It is not beyond the capacity of Rosal to foresee these impractical reasons that make his executive order a dumb move to help eradicate the problem on drugs and criminality. For all its worth, it is just an order that cannot achieve its intention, no matter how sincere, but rather generates debate and ridicule for its mediocrity and wanton disregard for basic human values that have become the mark of this administration. Mayor Rosal obviously wanted to upend Mr. Duterte’s trigger-happy and yet controversial anti-drug war as an investment for future political favors, never mind if such initiative would put his city hall into ridicule, if not in the bad light. Ito palang si Rep. Joey Salceda ng Albay ay hindi nag-iisa, whatever that one liner means.

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