Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday he welcomes the recent ruling by the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss a petition challenging the validity of legislation and presidential proclamations of the government to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I’m happy with the SC resolution,” Guevarra said, noting the government is acting responsibly in handling the crisis.

“The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) may be faulted with anything, but gravely abusing its discretion or acting in a whimsical or arbitrary manner is certainly not one of them,” he added.

During its en banc session, the SC junked a petition contesting the validity of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and presidential proclamations on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SC dismissed the petition filed by former Laguna State Polytechnic University dean Jaime Ibañez “as it failed to show grave abuse of discretion committed by its respondents”.

Named in the suit filed last month were Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Two magistrates, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Samuel Gaerlan dissented from the majority opinion, it added.

The suit filed by Ibañez sought to declare the Bayanihan law and Presidential Proclamations 922 and 929 as “partly unconstitutional” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Proclamation No. 922 issued on March 8 declared a state of public health emergency in the country while Proclamation 929 issued on March 16 declared a state of calamity nationwide and imposed an enhanced community quarantine throughout Luzon.

Among other things, Ibañez claimed the case involves the undue exercise of delegated legislative power.

In March, Congress enacted the Bayanihan law which authorized President Rodrigo Duterte to exercise powers that are necessary and proper to carry out the declared national policy in responding to the health crisis.

The law, which lapsed on June 25, also required the President to submit a weekly report to Congress. (PNA)