MANILA, Philippines Lawmakers continued to question the legality of President Rodrigo Dutertes order to ban electronic cigarettes in the absence of a law that prohibits their sale, use or possession.
Nullum crimen sine lege, or no crime without a law, is a universal legal principle that applies to the Presidents desire to prohibit the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, according to noted legal scholar and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Let Congress pass a law first, Rodriguez said in a text message on Nov. 22, adding that the police cannot just arrest people, invent offenses in police blotters or seize their private property over something that is not a crime.
Rodriguez said the House is now deliberating the various bills on vaping and cigarettes and law enforcers should just wait for a law instead of risking legal prosecution.
Even senators were at a loss on how to address Mr. Dutertes pronouncements on vaping and e-cigarettes.
Does the President want a total ban or just a regulation on the use of electronic cigarettes? Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri asked on Sunday.
We want to speak with the President for us to know what he really wants to happen, Zubiri said in a radio interview.
If he really wants an outright ban, then we should have a law because it will be difficult to ban something without any law that will provide instruction or guidance to the authorities, he added.
Zubiri noted that the President initially said he wanted to prohibit the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vaping but later said that owners of such devices may use them in their homes.
If it is allowed within the premises of the homes, thats only regulation, Zubiri said.
He said Sen. Pia Cayetano, the chair of the Senate ways and means committee, was also confused on whether to push a bill seeking an additional excise tax on vapes and other similar products.
Zubiri said a caucus to discuss Mr. Dutertes conflicting order was set for Nov. 25.