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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday pushed for the passage of a “special” and “permanent” law that will impose heftier penalties against quarantine violators.

In an interview with DZRH, Roque said a “quarantine law” is more necessary instead of filing murder raps against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) spreaders.

“Ang pinakamadali ay magkaroon po tayo ng special na batas na magpapataw ng parusa (The easiest thing to impose the penalty is to have a special law),” Roque said.“Kinakailangan talaga po natin ng permanenteng quarantine law at iyong ibang mga bansa naman po talaga ay mayroon (We really need a permanent quarantine law. Other countries already have that).”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo earlier said aside from reckless imprudence, charges of murder may be filed against a person if he or she intentionally goes out while infected with the deadly virus.

Roque, who is a lawyer like Panelo, said murder could only be slapped with a person if there is an intent to kill and qualifying circumstances which cannot be proven when a Covid-19 carrier infects other people.

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“Hindi ko po ina-agree-han iyong interpretation ni Secretary Sal Panelo (I don’t agree with Secretary Sal Panelo’s interpretation),” he said. “Mas mabuti pa rin na magkaroon ng pang-national na batas sa quarantine (It is better to have a quarantine law).”

Roque added that there is no need to rely on local ordinances to punish quarantine violators, once a measure against quarantine violators is passed into law.

“Kapag mayroon na po tayong permanenteng quarantine law, wala ng isyu. Hindi na kinakailangan ng mga ordinaryong ordinansa kung anong ipapataw na parusa doon sa mga hindi sumusunod sa minimum health standards (Once we have a permanent quarantine law, there will be no more issue. There is no need to issue a local ordinance imposing penalties on those defying minimum health standards),” he said.

On Monday, Duterte said he could “calibrate” the quarantine and health protocols, if Filipinos residing in areas with an alarming spike in Covid-19 infections refuse to adhere to minimum public health standards.

Duterte, however, did not elaborate on his plan to calibrate the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response efforts.

He added that people defying quarantine rules would face serious consequences. (PNA)

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