With the extension of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until Apr. 30, curfew measures in local government and barangay units are expected to continue its grip on citizens.
According to police data, 20,389 curfew violators have been apprehended in Luzon alone as of last week. Nationwide, 75,750 violators have been recorded from Mar. 17 until Apr. 1, with over 50,000 of them given warnings and 3,000 penalized with a fine.
A punishment that informs
In the district of La Paz, Iloilo City, instead of arresting or making those who are found to be roaming outside of allowed hours pay a fine, a different approach is employed: violators were made to watch a COVID-19 documentary.
According to a report by RMN Iloilo, the 47 individuals (including six minors) who were caught violating the curfew during the enhanced community quarantine in various barangays in La Paz are made to watch a video about COVID-19 at the La Paz gym.
As of Apr. 1, La Paz has apprehended 145 violators out of the total 817 individuals nabbed in Iloilo City.
Last week, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas announced that those who will be caught outside their homes past 8 p.m. will be detained for 12 hours in basketball courts and not in prison cells as those are already congested. Appropriate charges will be filed against them once the outbreak has eased, added Treñas.
Possible human rights violations
Many are wary that the implementation of curfew hours can be grounds for human rights violations like in some cases where violators were made to sit under the scorching heat or locked inside a cage as is the case in Laguna.
In light of these police abuses, Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said “Police and local officials should respect the rights of those they arrest for violating curfew and other public health regulations, which can be done while still allowing the Philippines government to take appropriate measures to combat COVID-19. Any mistreatment should be immediately investigated, and the authorities responsible held accountable.”
The most local barons of all are in the barangay, and their impunity is boundless. Exhibit A: https://t.co/s5mJYjbxJP
— Manuel L. Quezon III (@mlq3) April 7, 2020
The Commission on Human Rights released a statement on Mar. 15, reminding law enforcement units against unlawful arrests and to uphold human rights amid the implementation of COVID-19 curfew.
“CHR views the community quarantine as a human rights measure meant to protect the people’s right to health so we may live a life of quality and dignity,” CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“As such, we recognize the government’s position to restrict freedom of movement in the interest of public health and safety. However, we stress that this does not suspend all other rights protected by our Constitution and other pertinent laws.”
Header photo courtesy of Francis G. Basco/RMN Iloilo
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE