MANILA - The warning of President Rodrigo Duterte to judges interfering with his order to arrest people vaping or using e-cigarettes in public is sending the wrong signals, a law school dean said Friday.
"It sends the wrong signals that he can order the judiciary and that's not right. He cannot order the judiciary because of the concept of separation of powers of government," Soledad Mawis, dean of the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, said in a radio DZMM interview.
"I will take it with a grain of salt only because I know he ought to know that he is a lawyer, that it's not legally correct to take that position. It's more of a frustration lang siguro," she said.
On Wednesday, Duterte said he would not heed it should a court decide to block his directive.
Mawis explained that it is in the power of the chief executive to issue executive orders but whether or not it’s constitutional or not is "in the province of the court to decide."
"'Yan ho ay separation of powers of government na hindi niya pwedeng sabihan ang korte na 'O 'wag kayong mag issue ng TRO (temporary restraining order),'" she said.
While Duterte has yet to issue a written order to back his ban on vaping, the Philippine National Police on Wednesday already began its crackdown on users and vendors of e-cigarettes.
"Pwedeng makuwestiyon 'yung legality kasi what is the legal basis?" she said.
Duterte on Tuesday ordered the ban on e-cigarettes as he likened vaping to smoking tobacco cigarettes, which he earlier prohibited nationwide.
"Ang ipinagbabawal vaping in public or at the very least discouraging vaping like the way we discourage smoking kasi nga it's bad for the health," said Mawis.
There are about 1 million e-cigarette users in the Philippines according to the Department of Health.