CHR to gov’t: Never diminish, compromise rights during quarantine
MANILA, Philippines — “In tackling the pandemic, human dignity should not be diminished nor compromised.”
This was the message of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday as they reiterated their call for the government to put human rights “at the forefront while implementing what is necessary” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said that the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon in response to the pandemic was done as a “health and safety measure” and not as a “peace and order solution.”
De Guia said their office received reports regarding arrests of taxi drivers, a homeless senior citizen, as well as minors that did not comply with the curfew rule.
“We, therefore, reiterate that violations should not be automatically meted with arrest. Arrests, including warrantless arrests, must be strictly done within the legal standards inscribed in the law,” De Guia said.
“Further, the enhanced community quarantine continues to preserve human rights, due process, and the rule of law as fundamental principles of a democracy,” she said.
The most vulnerable
While expressing support towards measures seeking to prevent the spread of the virus, De Guia called on the government and the private sector, saying they have “human rights obligation” to also address the impact of the quarantine to the marginalized sector and the most vulnerable.
“As we have all witnessed in media reports in the past few days, the most vulnerable are gravely bearing the brunt of the unintended dire consequences of the enhanced community quarantine,” De Guia sai.
“The plight of the poor and the homeless, due to their socio-economic conditions, cannot be overemphasized,” she added.
De Guia added that while the government is also implementing measures to help those affected by the quarantine, “this urgent matter requires swiftness and due diligence to ensure that no person will be left behind.”
“Expedient and preemptive actions will also help prevent other foreboding consequences that may arise due to extreme hunger and poverty,” De Guia said.
She added: “To ensure the health of poor and homeless, we also remind our partners in the government to provide them with timely and appropriate medical and health provisions given the vulnerability of their conditions as well as the community that they inhabit.”
De Guia also reiterated her call for the conduct of mass testings, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“If the supply is limited, the guidelines and protocols must consider those that are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 – these are the elderly people as well as those with underlying medical conditions,” De Guia said.
“Missteps in prioritization may have dire consequences considering reports that there are already persons under investigation (PUIs) that are dying without getting the results of their tests,” she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine as a part of the government’s effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under the enhanced community quarantine, “strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.”
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