CHR to probe alleged rights violations by Silay City cops
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights in Western Visayas (CHR-6) has stepped in to investigate a video showing Silay City police officers as they made persons walk with their hands outstretched from the city’s police station to the plaza after being caught not wearing face masks.
Jacqueline Ann de Guia, spokesperson of CHR-6, said parading alleged quarantine violators on the streets may amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment penalized by Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) and the Convention Against Torture signed by the Philippines.”
“Human rights must always rest at the core of law enforcement. We urge law enforcement officers to also coordinate with public health experts on how to better explain and ensure compliance to health safety protocols amidst the pandemic. At the same time, we look forward to the cooperation of the PNP (Philippine National Police) in Silay City towards addressing this human rights concern,” she said.
Mayor Mark Golez, for his part, defended the actions of the Silay police, saying it has been practiced for eight months already as a disciplinary action against violators of a city ordinance requiring the observance of health protocols such as the wearing of face masks.
The ordinance requires those who fail to wear masks to pay P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 for the first, second, and third offenses respectively, and to do community work.
However, since most of the offenders cannot pay the fine, they were instead made to march from the police station to the city plaza covered court with their hands outstretched to also remind them of the need for social distancing, Golez said.
When they reached the Silay City covered court they were made to stand before a coffin and were lectured on what could happen to them if they contract Covid-19. They were also made to pledge that they will observe health protocols to keep everyone safe.
“They are then made to pray, given face masks and sent home (afterward),” he said.
Golez said these violators were not harmed, and their rights were not violated.
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