SC Dismisses Petitions Assailing COVID-19 Issuances of IATF, Other Government Agencies
July 13, 2023
The Supreme Court En Banc, during its session on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, dismissed the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the numerous regulations issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Philippines (IATF) in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those issued by local government units and government agencies.
In its Resolution in the cases of G.R. No. 258619 (Montemayor, Jr. v. Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID and Emerging Infectious Diseases [IATF], et al.), G.R. No. 258746 (Passengers and Riders Organization [Pasahero], Inc., et al. v. Duque III, et al.) and G.R. No. 260327 (Perlas III, et al. v. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases [IATF], et al.), the Court unanimously voted to dismiss the consolidated petitions for violation of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts.
The petitioners assailed the validity of several issuances by the IATF in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those issued by local government units and government agencies, specifically: IATF Resolution No. 148-B, 148-G, 149, 150, 155, 163, and 164; IATF Guidelines on Nationwide Implementation of Alert Level System for COVID-19 Response dated February 27, 2022; MMDA Resolution No. 22-01; DOTr D.O. No. 2022-001; DILG Memorandum Circular Nos. 2022-002 and 2022-008; LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2022-001; DepEd-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Series of 2022; DOH Department Circular No. 2022-0131; and Makati City Ordinance No. 2022-005.
IATF Resolution No. 148-B, requires all public and private establishments to require its eligible employees who are tasked to do on-site work to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or else subject themselves to RT-PCR testing every two weeks at their own expense, among others.
The petitioners collectively contended that the foregoing issuances trampled on their right to life and liberty without due process of law, constituted an impairment of their right to travel, as well as an infringement of the equal protection clause for applying only to those without access to private vehicles, and is discriminatory against the unvaccinated. They averred that the impugned measures embody a mandatory vaccination policy considering that the use of public transportation is an essential part of Filipino life.
The Court held that petitions were dismissible for violating the doctrine of hierarchy of courts as the resolution of the issues raised therein required the determination and adjudication of extremely technical and scientific facts that necessitates the conduct of a full-blown proceeding before a court of first instance.
The Supreme Court Public Information Office will upload a copy of the Resolution once it receives a copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)