CHR probing human rights concerns on curfew penalties in Pampanga town
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is investigating human rights violations in Mexico, Pampanga, after curfew violators were allegedly subjected to harsh and inhumane punishments.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Thursday that local government units should be reminded that curfews due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic were placed to safeguard the human rights of people, and not to violate them.
De Guia was referring to an incident in Barangay Pandacaqui of Mexico town, where violators were asked to dance provocatively and ordered to kiss each other in the lips — supposedly as an affront to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBTQIA+) community.
The act was supposedly streamed live on Facebook by a personal account that appears to be owned by the Pandacaqui’s barangay captain.
“Kailangan parating isipin ng ating mga local government units, kabilang ang lahat ng tauhan ng gobyerno, na ang enhanced community quarantine at ang iba pang mga guidelines na sumusuporta dito ay ginagawa para protektahan ang karapatang pantao ng lahat ng mga Pilipino,” De Guia said.
(Local government units, including all government employees, should always keep in mind that the enhanced community quarantine and other guidelines were placed to protect the human rights of all Filipinos.)
“Kailangan ng makatao at patas na pagtrato sa lahat—mayaman man o mahirap, may katungkulan man o wala. Kasama rito ang pagpapaalala sa ating mga kababayan sa kahalagahan ng pakikiisa sa pagsugpo sa paglaganap ng COVID-19 sa bansa […] Kasalukuyan na ring iniimbistigahan ng aming CHR Regional Office ang nasabing insidente,” she added.
(Treatment of everyone, rich or poor, those in power or not, should always be humane and fair. This includes reminding our countrymen of the importance of joining the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Right now, our CHR Regional Office is investigating this incident.)
The viral video, which has been deleted, earned the ire of LGBT advocates and human rights workers.
Checkpoints and curfew regulations were placed in various parts of Luzon due to the enhanced community quarantine, which was extended until April 30 because of rising COVID-19 cases.
Department of Health officials said that there are now at 4,076 patients infected with COVID-19, 203 of which have already died while at least 124 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 1.5 million individuals have been infected, while 88,228 have died from the disease and 330,934 have recovered from it.
CHR reminded that there are several laws that intend to protect children and people from such acts, like UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, and Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.
They also noted that areas like Pandacaqui can emulate activities of other towns like Iloilo City, where curfew violators were oriented about the sense of such regulations while observing human rights and physical distancing measures to avoid possible contraction of the disease.
“Para sa ibang paglabag, makatutulong na gamitin ang lente ng karapatang pantao sa pagpapatupad ng curfew at quarantine. May mga mas mainam na hakbang para sumunod ang mga mamamayan, tulad ng ginagawa sa Iloilo City kung saan ang pag-aresto ay sinasabayan ng pagtuturo tungkol sa COVID-19 at sinisigurong ang mga panuntunan sa physical distancing ay nasusunod pa rin,” De Guia stressed.
(For other violations, it would help if authorities use a viewpoint of human rights in enforcing the curfew and the quarantine. There are more proper ways for people to obey the rules, just like in Iloilo City where arrests are coupled with education drives about COVID-19, while physical distancing measures are being followed.)
“Mabuti ring tignan ang mga rason sa posibleng paglabag at siguraduhing may mga karampatang aksyon sa mga wastong hinaing, tulad ng pangangailan sa pagkain, gamot, at ayuda mula sa gobyerno,” she added.
(It is also important to look at the reason behind the curfew violation, and for government to act on the people’s grievances, like seeking food, medicine, and social aid.)
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