Talk:MMDA Resolution No. 22-01 Series of 2022
QUESTIONING VALIDITY OF MMDA RESOLUTION NO. 22-01 S. 2022
A Wikisource commentary by legal advocate, Ferdinand A. Oreas in expository discourse pertinent the statutory nullity and invalidity of MMDA Resolution No. 22-01 Series of 2022 titled "[A Resolution] Urging the Metro Manila Local Government Units to Enact Their Respective Ordinances on the Enhanced Restrictions of the Unvaccinated Individuals to Regulate Their Mobility in the National Capital Region." enacted 03 January 2022 by the Metro Manila Council.
A Resolution Framed in Palpable Showcase of Ignorance of the Law
An insult to intelligence, construction of MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 Series of 2022 is an audacious pressuposition that Filipinos has not the understanding pertinent the technicalities of the letters of law it outrageously capitalized on the arrogant suggestion that Filipinos lack basic comprehension they will unquestioningly subscribe to its provisions being a grand showcase of gross ignorance of the law.
VIOLATION OF R.A. NO. 11332
WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act declares that it is the policy of the State “to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them” and that the State “recognizes epidemics and other public health emergencies as threats to public helath and national security, which can undermine the social, economic, and politicla functions of the State.”
Literal implication suggests enactment of the questioned resolution imposing restriction on mobility of unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila is in keeping with the policy espoused with R.A. No. 11332 particularly expressed by the controlling phrase “to protect and promote the right to health of the people”.
Plain cursory reading of the Act however shows that MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 a direct contradiction of the aforecited policy as R.A. NO. 11332 provides that –
Section 4. Objectives. This Act shall have the following objectives:
(j) To respect to the fullest extent possible, the rights of people to liberty, bodily integrity, and privacy while maintaining and preserving public health and security. [Emphasis supplied]
In application, the idea of restricting mobility of unvaccinated individuals obviously runs counter with “the rights of people to liberty” which the aforequoted provision mandated the framers of the questioned resolution to “respect to the fullest extent possible.”
Republic Act No. 11332 in declaring the policy “to protect and promote the right to health of the poeple” provides an express and literal exemption in suggesting that the policy does not include such measures tantamount to restricting “the rights of people to liberty.”
Owing to the aforecited contradiction therefore, there is no arguing that MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 in contradiction THUS in violation, of R.A. No. 11332.
That being the case, it is but only logical to conclude that MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 a void and invalid executive issuance.
MMDA AND ITS COUNCIL HAS NO AUTHORITY TO IMPLEMENT R.A. NO. 11332
Section 4 (f) of the R.A. No. 11332 in stating an objective of the Act provides:
(f) To ensure that public health authorities have the stuatutory and regulatory authority to ensure: (a) Mandatory reporting; (b) Epidemic investigation; (c) Quarantine and isolation; and, (d) Containment and disease prevention and control.
Be it noted that the statutory and regulatory authority provided by the Act pertains to public health authorities which, under Section 3 (k) is defined as follows:
(k) Public health authority refers to the DOH xxx, the local health office xxx, or any person directly authorized to act on behalf of the DOH or the local health office.
Note that "person authorized to act on behal of the DOH" pertains to (private) individuals as those in the medical profession and NOT to government agencies as that of MMDA or the Metro Manila Council.
Clearly therefore, MMDA is not among the entities cited in definition as to who is a public healthb authority that its enactment of the questioned resolution an exercise in grave abuse of discretion for lack of power and authority.
VACCINE CARDS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AN ADDITIONAL MANDATORY REQUIREMENT
Section 12 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 provides:
XXX Provided further, That the vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.
Briefly defined, a Vaccine Card is manifest proof of vaccination. In providing vaccine cards not to be intended as mandatory additional requirement, the aforequoted provision, in effect, mandates that vaccination should not be a qualifying requisite for education, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.
By enacting MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 that imposes restrictions on the mobility of unvaccinated persons in Metro Manila, mobility and travel other than for essential purposes are made to require the mandatory showing of proof of vaccination that transactions relating to education, employment and those of the government necessarily require being vaccinated evidenced by the presentment of a vaccine card.
That being the case, MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 clearly contravenes Section 12 of R.A. No. 11525 and is therefore void and invalid.
Void Unenforceable Resolution -- Of No Force and Effect
The scope of the function of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has been decisively settled by the Court in the case of MMDA v. Bel-Air Village Asso., Inc. [G.R. no. 135962, March 27, 2000] stressing that:
"There is no syllable in Republic Act No. 7924 (Act Creating MMDA) that grants MMDA police power, let alone legislative power. Even the Metro Manila Council (MMC) has not been delegated any legislative power. There is no provision in R.A. No. 7924 that empowers MMDA or its Council to enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the inhabitants of Metro Manila. The MMDA is, as termed in the charter itself, a "development authority" [Sec. 1. R.A. 7924]. xxx All its functions are administrative in nature."
I. ABUSE OF POWER AND DISCRETION
Inquiring on the legisltative intent of R.A. No. 7924 (Act Creating MMDA) which originated as House Bill No. 14170/11116, Chairman of the House Committe on Local Government, Hon. Congressman, Ciriaco R. Alfelor of the 9th Congress during the 10 November 1993 Committee Hearing deliberations of the Bill stressed the following:
"The power delegated to MMDA is that given to the Metro Manila Council to promulgate administrative rules and regulations in the implementation of the MMDA's functions. There is no grant of authority to enact ordinances and regulations for the general welfare of the inhabitants of the metropolis." [Transcript of the Deliberations of the Committee on Local Government, House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines, November 10, 1993, pp. 46-48.]
A. Limited Rule- and Policy-Making Power of MMDA and MMC
Official issuances by MMDA therefore, such that of the questioned Reslution, must be limited only to purposes relating implementation of MMDA’s administrative functions. Further, it is not within the powers and function of MMDA or its Council to enact ordinances and regulations on matters relating general welfare of inhabitants of Metro Manila.
In providing for the controlling rationale, MMDA Resolution No. 20-01 s. 2022 under the 5th whereas clause specifically provides the following:
WHEREAS, xxx [unvaccinated individuals] "become more susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19 infection which will in turn require hospital care thereby unduly burdening the health care system to the detriment of public health."
Hence, the "enactment of ordinances on the enhanced restrictions of the unvaccinated individuals to regulate their mobility in the National Capital Region" is the singular definitive pro-active measure intended by the Resolution to preempt the scenario of hospital facilities and medical services or otherwise of the general health care system being overwhelmed by the prevalence of virus infection among unvaccinated persons to the detriment of the public in general.
B. Outrageous Exercie of Rule- and Policy-Making Power
Well intended or even noble as may seem, it bears emphasizing however that matters concerning the promotion of public health by pro-actively securing the region's general health care system through the issuance of the questioned MMDA Resolution is not within the ambit of the mandated function of the MMDA and its Council.
For purposes of expository analogy, a resolution or issuance intended to promulgate internal rules and regulation or general administrative policy on, say for example, GARBAGE, ASTRAY ANIMALS, TARPAULIN “na nakalaylay sa ibabaw ng tulay”, MMDA ENFORCER “na naghihintay ng lagay sa ilalim ng tulay”, or SIPSIP POSO-NEGRO, much as matters within its powers and function would, unlike enactment of metro-wide health care regulation, otherwise be a valid and legitimate exercise of the agency's limited rule-making power in carrying-out its mandated administrative functions.
Thus, it goes without saying that sheer common sense suggests that matters concerning general welfare such that of public health is way beyond issues concerning BASURA, HAYOP, TARP, POSO-NEGRO, or KOTONG “sa ilalim ng tulay”.
Much as the issuance of MMDA Resolution 20-01 s. 2022 an outrageous exercise of power and discretion way too ambitious and arrogant it is deemed an act performed in excess and abuse of power and discretion (or the lack of it) HENCE considered void and unenforceable that they are of without any force and effect.
C. Qualifying Delegated Legislative Power of the Executive
Indeed, administrative agencies possess quasi-legislative or rulemaking powers, among others. It is the power to make rules and regulations which results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers." [Holy Spirit Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Secretary Michael Defensor, 529 Phil. 573, 585 (2006).]
In the exercise of this power, the rules and regulations that administrative agencies promulgate should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted by the legislature to the administrative agency. It is required that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law, and be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by law. They must conform to and be consistent with the provisions of the enabling statute in order for such rule or regulation to be valid. [SMART Communications, Inc. v National Telecommunicarions Commission, 456 Phil. 145, 156 (2003).]
Any impairment or restriction in the exercise of a constitutional right must be clear, categorical and unambiguous. For the rule is that:
Constitutional and statutory provisions control with respect to what rules and regulations may be promulgated by an administrative body, as well as with respect to what fields are subject to regulation by it. It may not make rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution or a statute, particularly the statute it is administering or which created it, or which are in derogation of, or defeat, the purpose of a statute. [SMART Communications, Inc. y National Telecommunications Commission, ibid.,]
II. CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE RESOLUTION
Beyond the attempt of treading on the more technical aspect implied on the use of the legal term "constitutionality" in the exclusive context as a Term of Art in Law, the definition by Black’s Law Dictionary (1983, 5th Abridged Edition) on the related term "constitutional" is herein proposed for general application as accorded the following meaning:
CONSTITUTIONAL. [noun]. Consistent with the constitution; authorized by the constitution; not conflicting with any provision of the constitution or fundamental law of the state; dependent upon a constitution, or secured or regulated by a constitution.
Applied on the legal controversy at hand, the foregoing discourse raises in enquiry “whether or not the enactment – adoption and approval – and promulgation of MMDA Resolution 20-01 s. 2022 by the Metro Manila Council constitutional?”
Elsewise stated we ask, “whether or not a resolution imposing enhanced restrictions of unvaccinated individuals to regulate their mobility in the National Capital Region in accordance with the Constitution?”
A. Right to Travel: An Exercise of Liberty as the Greatest of All Rights
The right to travel is part of the "liberty" of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law. [Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116] It is part and parcel of the guarantee of freedom of movement that the Constitution affords its citizen. Pertinently, Section 6, Article III of the Constitution provides:
Section 6. The liberty of abode and of 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 be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by law.
Liberty under the foregoing clause includes the right to choose one's residence, to leave it whenever he pleases and to travel wherever he wills. [Isagani A. Cruz, Constitutional Law, 2000 Edition, p. 168.]
WHEN IS IMPAIRMENT OF RIGHT TO TRAVEL VALID
That just as all other rights the right to travel not absolute as there are constitutional statutory and inherent limitations that regulate the right. Section 6 itself provides that right to travel may be implaired only in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by law. In Silverio vs. Court of Appeals, [273 Phil. 128, 135 (1991)], the Court elucidated, thus:
Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution should be interpreted to mean that while the liberty of travel may be impaired even without Court Order, the appropriate executive officers or administrative authorities are not armed with arbitrary discretion to impose limitations. They can impose limits only on the basis of "national security, public safety, or public health" and "as may be provided by law," a limitive phrase which did not appear in the 1973 text (The Constitution, Bernas, Joaquin G.,S.J., Vol. I, First Edition, 1987, p. 263).
Clearly, under the provision, there are only three considerations that may permit a restriction on the right to travel: national security, public safety or public health. As a further requirement, there must be an explicit provision of statutory law or the Rules of Court providing for the impairment.
B. Requirement for Legislative Enactment: A Safeguard to Prevent Inordinante Restrictions
The requirement for a legislative enactment was purposely added to prevent inordinate restraints on the person's right to travel by administrative officials who may be tempted to wield authority under the guise of national security, public safety or public health.
The necessity of a law before a curtailment in the freedom of movement may be permitted is apparent in the deliberations of the members of the Constitutional Commission. In particular, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, in his sponsorship speech, stated thus:
The addition of the phrase WITHIN THE LIMITS PRESCRIBED BY LAW ensures that, whether the rights be impaired on order of a court or without the order of a court, the impairment must be in accordance with the prescriptions of law; that is, it is not left to the discretion of any public officer. [Records of the Constitutional Commission, Volume 1, p. 674.]
It is well to remember that under the 1973 Constitution, the right to travel is compounded with the liberty of abode in Section 5 thereof, which reads:
Section 5, 1973 Constitution: The liberty of abode and of travel shall not, be impaired except upon lawful order of the court, or when necessary in the interest of national security, public safety or public health.
"WITHIN THE LIMITS PRESCRIBED BY LAW"
Realizing the loophole in the old provision, the members of the Constitutional Commission agreed that a safeguard must be incorporated in the provision in order to avoid this unwanted consequence. Thus, the Commission meticulously framed the subject provision in such a manner that the right cannot be subjected to the whims of any administrative officer. In addressing the loophole, they found that requiring the authority of a law most viable in preventing unnecessary intrusion in the freedom of movement, viz:
MR. NOLLEDO. My question is [about the provision that says] the liberty of abode shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court xxx; in the second part [on the right to travel], it seems that the question rises as to who determines whether it is in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health. May it be determined merely by administrative authorities?
FR. BERNAS. The understanding we have of this is that, yes, it may be determined by administrative authorities provided that they act, according within the limits prescribed by law. [Records of the Constitutional Commission, Ibid.,]
In any case, when there is a dilemma between an individual claiming the exercise of a constitutional right viz-a-viz the state’s assertion of authority to restrict the same, any doubt must, at all times, be resolved in faour of the free exercise of the right, absent any explicit provision of law to the contrary.
FINAL NOTE: ON "LOCUS STANDI"
FOR INFORMATION: This Contributor, to the date of this posting, has not been in anyway subjected to any COVID-19 vaccine and is therefore a party directly affected by the subject of the foregoing legal discourse. Petition for Declaratory Relief with Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction with damages pursuant to Rule 63 of the Rules of Court is one available remedy currently being contemplated by the same.