Parañaque village chief accused of ‘torturing’ curfew violators
MANILA, Philippines — A barangay chair in Parañaque City has denied “torturing” curfew violators by making them sit under the sun for an hour.
Noel Japlos of Barangay San Isidro, clarified on Tuesday that the violators were not punished but were merely asked to stay outside the barangay hall to maintain social distancing while their names were being taken.
In a now deleted Facebook post on Monday, Japlos showed photos of several people who allegedly violated the 24-hour curfew being implemented in the city as part of the enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under the sweltering heat, they were seated on yellow monoblock chairs a meter apart from each other outside the barangay covered court.
Only residents holding home quarantine passes are allowed to go out of their houses for essential business, including buying food and medicine.
“It’s easy for some people not to go outside because they have food and money. But there are people like me who need to go outside to work so we can eat something for the day,” said John (not his real name), who was among those apprehended.
“This is a lesson for us to obey rules, but please also understand where we are coming from,” he added.
Netizens commented that what Japlos did was a form of physical torture, punishable under Republic Act 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
Under Section 4 of the law, physical torture is a form of treatment or punishment inflicted by a person in authority or agent of a person in authority upon another in their custody that causes severe pain, exhaustion, disability or dysfunction of one or more parts of the body, including “harmful exposure to the elements such as sunlight and extreme cold.”
In a separate Facebook video, Japlos clarified the violators were only under barangay custody to verify their information.“Our barangay facilities are not capable of handling a lot of people, because we are implementing social distancing,” he said, noting that daily, they apprehend up to 100 curfew violators.
There were some netizens who praised Japlos for showing “love and concern” for his constituents.
Japlos said his barangay was strictly enforcing the curfew to keep their number of COVID-19 cases at zero.
“I’m appealing not just to the people in my barangay but everyone in the country to stay at home if you have no necessary business outside,” he added. “Think about the safety of your parents and grandparents who may get the virus from you after going outside.”
With 80,000 residents, San Isidro is one of the most populous barangays in the city. It has recorded 23 persons under investigation and 31 persons under monitoring.
As of Tuesday, Parañaque has 16 confirmed coronavirus cases, which resulted in one fatality. It recorded a total of 262 PUIs and 182 PUMs.
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