PH execs should control abusive cops, gov’t officers amid lockdown — HRW
MANILA, Philippines — Government and police officers who have exhibited abusive behavior should be controlled by the country’s supervising agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), an international rights watchdog said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said on Monday that the DILG must exercise oversight over its personnel, and investigate recent incidents that were believed to have been in abuse of authority in enforcing lockdown protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The DILG must exercise effective oversight over its personnel, investigate all reports of abuses, and hold officers committing rights violations accountable,” Robertson said in a statement.
“The lockdown and quarantine, and even the emergency powers bestowed on President (Rodrigo) Dutete, do not excuse the actions of officials to wantonly violate international human rights norms and the Philippine Constitution, which specifically protects citizens from unreasonable searches and arrests,” he added.
Robertson’s statement came on the heels of reports that Makati City policemen attempted to arrest a man in a posh subdivision after his maid supposedly violated quarantine rules of not wearing a face mask in public. However, the man noted that his housemaid was in his property, and not in public.
Makati Police said they will file charges against the man for disobedience to a public officer, direct assault, and defiance of a city ordinance.
Several other incidents of alleged abuse by Philippine National Police personnel and other government officials have been documented while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was placed over Luzon and other areas.
The most controversial of which was a Quezon City policeman’s shooting dead of a former soldier who had a mental disorder.
Police Mst. Sgt. Daniel Florendo shot former Army Cpl. Winston Ragos twice, leading to his death, after the latter appeared to be drawing a gun. However, bystanders claimed that the former military man did not carry any gun, and was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an after effect of his military service.
Opposition groups have blamed Duterte’s infamous order to law enforcers to shoot violators dead, but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quoted saying that it is not related to the case of Florendo and Ragos.
Other issues have prompted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct investigations, including an incident in Mexico, Pampanga where curfew violators were made to dance provocatively, and kiss each other as a penalty.
“The Philippine government should immediately rein in out of control law enforcers and public officials committing rights abuses while they enforce Covid-19 quarantine and lockdown regulations,” Robertson said.
“Even before the incident in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, there has been an increasing number of incidents in which police and government personnel abused their powers by committing rights violations,” he added.
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