It is beyond doubt that the government has the obligation to protect its people. As the parens patriae of its people, the government’s main function is to promote the general welfare. In the performance of its functions, the government has certain basic powers without which no government will be able to survive – police power, power of taxation and power of eminent domain.
Police power is a power that is broad in scope. It applies to anything and everything that the government can do in order to ensure the promotion of general welfare. Because of the police power, the government can pass certain legislations and statutes that limit the rights and freedom of individuals.
For example, one of the duties of the government is to protect its people against individuals who have violated the law and who are considered to be dangers to the society. In order to perform its duty, the government is given the power to arrest persons who have committed a crime and to detain them so that the society will be protected against them.
In line with the objective of ensuring the protection of the public, the government is fully authorized with its broad powers to require the commitment and confinement of persons who are mentally ill for the protection of the society. This authority extends even to situations where the individual refuses to be committed and confined to mental institutions.
This is otherwise known as involuntary confinement which is defined as “the practice of using legal means to commit a person to a mental hospital, insane asylum or psychiatric ward against the will or over the protests of that person.”
When the government uses its broad powers to confine individuals against their will, it is usually done to separate those who are mentally ill from those who are not so that they will receive treatment from institution. The goal is to help them receive proper care and treatment be referring them to institutions which have the right personnel and facilities to deal with their mental problem. It also seeks to protect individuals who are not mentally ill from the possibility of being harmed by individuals who are mentally ill.
While this authority is recognized, there are those who question the constitutionality of this action. They consider that forcing an individual to be confined and committed to a mental institution is may violate the due process rights of the individual concerned.
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