De Lima to DILG exec amid lockdown: Fight the virus, not the people
MANILA, Philippines – Human rights should still be respected even with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Sen. Leila de Lima said on Monday.
De Lima explained in a statement from her detention cell in Camp Crame that officials who believe that human rights and the writ of habeas corpus would now be dispensable should be reminded that the government should be fighting a virus – not the people.
She also noted that even the World Health Organization (WHO), the international body leading the fight against COVID-19, had insisted on respecting human rights.
“I have this to say to officials who claim that human rights and writ of habeas corpus can now be dispensed with due to health emergency: Respect human rights! Maging ang WHO iyan ang paalala. Please lang, hindi ito panahon para lalong sikilin ang mamamayan,” the opposition senator said in a hand-written statement.
[Even WHO gives that reminder. Please, this is not the time to restrict the people.]
“Ang kalaban ay virus, hindi mga Pilipino. Bakit sila aarestuhin na parang kriminal dahil sa curfew? Kung nahuli, pauwiin na lang, balaan at paliwanagan maigi. Kung ikukulong, ‘di lalong nagkahawa-hawa sa kulungan,” she added.
[Our opponent is the virus, not the Filipinos. Why arrested them like criminals just because of the curfew? If they were caught, let them go home and reprimand them. Arresting them might only spread the disease in detention facilities.]
De Lima did not mention the official who supposedly disregarded the writ, but recently, Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño found himself in hot water for saying that rights could be nullified by a state of public health emergency declared by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Diño said in a radio interview with DZBB over the weekend that both human rights and the writ of habeas corpus were suspended with Duterte’s declaration.
“Wala na hong karapatan. Tandaan n’yo, state of emergency ngayon,” he said when asked about possible human rights violations that may occur during arrests of curfew violators. “Ang karapatang pantao ay nawawala pagdating ng state of emergency, ang point and purpose natin ay kaligatasan ng sambayanang Pilipino.”
[We don’t have any rights. Remember, we are under a state of emergency. Human rights are removed while under a state of emergency, the point and purpose of which is to ensure the safety of the Filipino people.]
The writ of habeas corpus is a court order mandating public officials to produce the body of an arrested person and to explain why the individual was detained.
The remarks of the Department of the Interior and Local Government official have drawn condemnation from various circles, while the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reminded people to be more vigilant of their rights.
De Lima, a former CHR chairperson herself, asked why government officials are keen on treating Filipinos as criminals when the rights of people coming from China — back when people feared that the COVID-19 might be brought to the Philippine through Chinese flights — were respected.
The COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan City in Hubei province in China in late 2019.
“Noong nanawagan na isara na ang mga paliparan para hindi kumalat ang virus, lalo sa mga flights mula China, binalewala lang. Ngayong kumalat na, bakit naman mga Pilipino na ang gustong alisan ng karapatang pantao at tratuhing kriminal,” De Lima asked.
[When we called to close the airports, especially for flights coming from China to avoid the virus from spreading, they just disregarded it. Now that it is spreading, why would they want to strip Filipinos of their human rights and treat them as criminals?]
“We are not under siege by a foreign military, or under rebellion. We are in a state of health emergency. Kaya please, huwag tratuhing kriminal ang mamamayan!” she said.
[That’s why, please do not treat the people as criminals!]
As of Monday, the whole of Luzon including Occidental Mindoro was still under an enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. This means that only frontline service operators like health care workers and service crew members are allowed to go to work.
According to the Department of Health, as of this writing, there are already 462 confirmed cases in the Philippines, 33 of whom have already died and 18 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 334,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, of whom 14,608 patients have died and another 96,243 have recovered.
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