“Why would you file a case against a person who has been afflicted by the virus when the government response has been slow and marred with wrong priorities?”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A labor group assailed President Rodrigo Duterte for saying that COVID-19 patients may be charged with murder if he or she deliberately infects other people with the virus and such transmission causes death.
In a taped message aired Monday, President Duterte agreed to a proposal by his chief legal adviser that murder charges may be filed against COVID-19 patients who did not take precautions and infected others who eventually died. His legal adviser said such death can be considered murder because it is “intentional.”
Kilusang Mayo Uno Secretary General Jerome Adonis maintained that the number of COVID-19 cases have surged due to inept government response.
“Why would you file a case against a person who has been afflicted by the virus when the government response has been slow and marred with wrong priorities?” Adonis said.
This is not the first time that the president has ordered the arrest of individuals who purportedly violated health protocols. Earlier this month, he also ordered the arrest of those not wearing proper face masks in the name of protecting the public.
“Detain them, investigate them why they are doing it,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
As of today, the Philippines has breached 1.2 million COVID-19 cases, of which 56,452 are considered active cases. The country is currently experiencing a surge in various provinces, including the cities of Davao and Dumaguete.
“Your inactions have resulted in dire living conditions for many. Now you want to turn them into criminals?” said Adonis.
No legal basis
Meanwhile, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Secretary General Ephraim Cortez told Bulatlat in an online interview that there is no basis to file murder against COVID-19 patients. To commit this crime, he said, a person must have killed another with the act attended by the qualifying circumstances defined by the country’s Revised Penal Code.
This provides that murder is committed under circumstances of treachery, of superior strength, with evident premeditation, and with cruelty, to name a few.
In a separate statement, Adonis said the government should focus on providing financial aid amid the continuing joblessness in the country. Government data revealed that 4.14 million Filipinos lost their jobs when a stricter lockdown was imposed last month.