DOJ: No arrest for lockdown violators unless they ‘assault, bribe, slander’

Lian Buan

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DOJ: No arrest for lockdown violators unless they ‘assault, bribe, slander’

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also says curfew violators cannot be arrested unless local government units have issued their respective ordinances

MANILA, Philippines – Can you be arrested for violating the lockdown terms of Metro Manila that will begin at 12:01 am of Sunday, March 15?

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Saturday, March 14, that law enforcement agents can only physically remove you from the borders and prevent you from entering and exiting, but they cannot arrest or detain you.

However, Guevarra said a warrantless arrest may be valid if the person trying to breach the borders “assaults, slanders, or bribes” the officer.

“No [you cannot be arrested or detained], just being physically prevented from entering or exiting. But if the person assaults the law enforcement agent, or slanders him, or bribes him, then that’s cause for a warrantless arrest,” Guevarra told reporters.

The clarification was sought by media after Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas threatened to arrest violators of the metro-wide lockdown.

“If the guidelines have already been passed and it’s been disseminated, those who will violate will be arrested,” Sinas said.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno reminded the police force that while they are authorized to implement the lockdown, all they can do is to prevent people from entering and exiting Metro Manila – the same as what Guevarra said.

“Puwede ka nilang harangin at ‘wag papasukin, na tama lang naman kung kailangan, pero hindi ka nila pwedeng arestuhin at ikulong dahil hindi naman krimen ang subukang pumasok sa Metro Manila,” said Diokno.

(They can bar you and refuse entry, which will be correct if necessary, but they cannot arrest you and detain you because it’s not a crime to enter Metro Manila.)


The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Saturday that Metro Manila mayors  agreed to impose an 8 pm to 5 am curfew in Metro Manila beginning Sunday, March 15. The Metro Manila Council passed a resolution urging Local Legislative Councils to pass ordinances imposing curfews in their areas.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said anyone found during curfew hours would be asked to go home, and if they refuse, they would be arrested.

Guevarra said, however, that arrests cannot be made without an LGU ordinance on the curfew.

“If there is no ordinance, no arrests (as in detention) can be made,” said Guevarra.

As of posting on Saturday, no LGU has passed an ordinance yet, although the MMDA said the curfew was supposed to be enforced as early as Sunday, March 15, to coincide with the Metro Manila lockdown.

The MMC resolution was signed by all 17 Metro Manila mayors. – 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.