CHR slams P’que task force’s use of excessive force in arresting vendor
MANILA, Philippines — The Parañaque City task force’s use of excessive force in apprehending an ambulant vendor is unnecessary and unjustified, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Monday.
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, the commission is alarmed over the viral video showing five of the city’s task force dragging and pinning the vendor after refusing to let go of his push cart that he was using in selling.
“The aggressive arrest of an ambulant vendor by the Parañaque Task Force is deeply concerning. As seen in the video circulating online, 5 members of the of the said task force aggressively accosted the vendor, Warren Villanueva, who was holding on to his cart, his main utility for selling,” De Guia said in a statement.
“The use of excessive force by the task force appears unjustified and unnecessary. It constitutes cruelty, degrades the person, and can cause long-term psychological harm,” she added.
During a clearing operation last week, five members of the task force were seen trying to arrest the vendor in a violent manner — an action that forced senators and other officials to sound alarm over rights violations.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Twitter that while the rule of law must prevail, there are certain circumstances where “mercy may overrule justice.” Senator Nancy Binay on the other hand said that she hoped the enforcers helped the vendor instead.
The CHR said that it has dispatched a team to investigate the incident.
“For the CHR’s part, our investigation team has been dispatched to look into the incident and provide needed intervention,” De Guia noted.
“Implementing the law must always account for the totality of the situation and the human condition. What is legal must also be humane. In apprehending small vendors, we hope that their dire situation is given due consideration and alternative options are provided so they may continue to earn a decent living,” she added.
CHR said that while they welcome Olivarez’ move to suspend the officers, they hope that the victim can be given psychological intervention to assess his mental health after the incident.
“Mayor Olivarez also said that Warren’s cart has been returned but he’s still experiencing anxiety due to the incident. We hope that immediate psychological intervention is also provided to the vendor in recognition of the harm done,” De Guia said.
“Law enforcement must not transgress the dignity of individuals, especially the impoverished ones who most need the law’s utmost protection,” she added.
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