‘What’s legal basis?’

A RETIRED judge said the seized vape and electronic cigarette devices should be returned to their owners as there is no existing law that bans them.

“To my mind, it should be returned because that is not a property subject to any crime,” Meinrado Paredes said in a mix of Cebuano and English. He said that “we don’t have a criminal statute banning vaping. There is only a presidential directive.”

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Valeriano de Leon, for his part, the devices confiscated in Cebu will not be returned to their owners—these will be destroyed.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) heeded the verbal order of President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest persons caught using vape in public.

The chief executive’s order came out after the Department of Health received a report on the first recorded case of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury from Central Visayas.

Reprimanding users

In Central Visayas, the users were only reprimanded.

The Cebu City Police Office, which is under the PRO 7, presented 230 vape devices it had seized on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.

“We will destroy these items as these were already seized by the PNP,” de Leon said in Tagalog.

De Leon said he is waiting for instructions from Camp Crame on what to do with persons reprimanded for using vape or electronic cigarette devices. He said they might file charges against the users in the future.

But Paredes said the presidential directive must be published first before it can be implemented.

An executive order that is penal in nature requires a publication as it is the “unbending rule,” he said.

“There must be a publication so that the public would be forewarned whether it is a criminal offense or not,” he said.

Administrative code

Executive Order 292, issued by then President Corazon Aquino, institutes the Administrative Code of 1987, wherein it states the chief executive’s power.

The administrative code, however, does not state that the President can create his own law.

The first section of the code’s third book states the powers of the President. The chief executive, it says, “shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Second chapter’s section two states that executive orders are “acts of the President providing for rules of a general or permanent character in implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers shall be promulgated in executive orders.”

Seventh chapter’s section 19 states: “the President shall exercise such other powers as are provided for in the Constitution.”

Secure search warrant

Asked if the police could close vape shops in Cebu City, Paredes law enforcers can close any firm operating without business permits.

“In the first place, vape shops, presumably, have business permits from the City. They have secured documents allowing them to sell these kinds of products. Again, there is no law disallowing such business,” he said.

Paredes said law enforcers must secure a search warrant first before they can enter any establishment, adding the citizens have the right against unlawful search.

The second section of the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights include “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable.” It further states that “no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” (WBS, BBL/KAL)


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