CHR cites danger of detaining alleged quarantine violators in small spaces
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has raised concerns over how the police handle the arrest of alleged quarantine violators who are consequently placed in detention cells where physical distancing is almost impossible.
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, the detention of arrested persons in small spaces puts them at a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Ensuring the rule of law means that the protection of our fundamental rights are guaranteed. Such principle rests on the idea that laws are not only enforced but applied at all times—consistent and without exception. Perpetrators of violations must be held to account,” De Guia said in a statement on Friday.
“However, arrests during the current pandemic are a cause of concern as they appear to violate the government’s own health and safety guidelines, such as physical distancing,” she added.
CHR noted at least two recent incidents where supposed quarantine violators were detained: the arrest of 20 people during the Pride March in Mendiola, Manila City, and round up of more than 100 persons from a bar in Makati City.
Prior to these arrests, activist group Anakbayan and transport organization Piston noted that the Piston 6 protesters — who were nabbed while protesting the government’s refusal to let jeepneys operate — were detained in a facility unfit for distancing and hygienic protocols.
Two of the six protesters eventually tested positive for the coronavirus.
CHR reminded law enforcers to adhere to health protocols placed by the government — especially since more and more police officers contract COVID-19. As of Thursday, there are 801 police personnel, both commissioned and non-commissioned officers, who have been infected with the virus.
“At the same time, this reminder comes at a time when the Philippine National Police also notes a rise in the case of police officers testing positive for COVID-19. It would then be to the benefit of our police officers to help curb the trend of possible more infections by being more conscious of their actions,” De Guia said.
“The pandemic cannot be won through law enforcement policies alone, but rather by approaching this national crisis with a comprehensive approach that balances the rule of law, protecting the health of the nation, and upholding human rights,” she added. With reports from Jim Mendoza, Trainee
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