The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a petition for mandamus seeking to compel the government to implement free mass testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
In a four-page resolution dated September 1 and released on Wednesday, the high court said the petitioners, among other things, “failed to exhaust administrative remedies”, adding that “a plain and speedy remedy exists” for their requests for information under existing laws, particularly Exec. Order No, 2. s 2016, which operationalizes the people’s right to information.
The court said “without a demonstration that an official in the executive branch failed to perform a mandatory, nondiscretionary duty, courts have no authority to issue a writ of mandamus, no matter how dire the emergency”.
It explained that the writ of mandamus sought by the petitioners “is an appropriate remedy only where the law prescribes and defines the duty to be performed with such precision and certainty as to leave nothing to the exercise of discretion or judgment”.
“The job of the court is to say what the law is, not dictate how another branch of government should do its job,” the court said.
The high court turned down the petition filed by the Citizens Urgent Response to End Covid-19 led by its spokesperson, former Social Welfare and Development secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Coalition for the People’s Right to Health Convenor, Dr. Raymond Joshua L. San Pedro, and several others.
The petitioners called for a “proactive” mass testing, ramp up contact tracing, and release accurate information on the country’s status in its fight against Covid-19. (PNA)