Supreme Court junks petition on free mass testing for COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — The Supreme Court threw out a petition seeking COVID-19 mass testing, saying the petitioners did not show proof that such an action was needed.

The resolution dated September 1, was in response to a request seeking a writ of mandamus to "compel the Department of Health, and any and all agencies involved in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, to conduct mass testing, efficient contact tracing and isolation, and effective treatment of positive cases."

Without asking the government to comment, the Supreme Court junked the petition.

A writ of mandamus is an appropriate remedy only when the law defines the duty to be done with precision and certainty.

The petitioners sought to compel government to conduct testing for all suspected cases, contacts of probable and confirmed cases, frontline healthcare workers, and high-risk communities.

They also wanted the government to provide "accurate, timely, and complete" data on the country's COVID-19 situation.

The Supreme Court said it had no authority to issue such a writ "no matter how dire the emergency," unless an official in the Executive branch is shown as not performing their duty.

"The job of the Court is to say what the law is and not to dictate how another branch of government should do its job," the statement said.

The Supreme Court added the petitioners have not exhausted all remedies that were available to them.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.