Sue erring cops, not those just doing their jobs, Duterte urges rights advocates
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights advocates must go deeper into stories of alleged police brutality and file complaints only against erring cops and not those doing their jobs, President Rodrigo Duterte said during his taped briefing that aired on Wednesday night.
Dutete said this in the context of police officers who would enforce COVID-19 quarantine restrictions — particularly those who might be left with no recourse to use force in arresting violators.
Earlier, he directed the police to arrest barangay chiefs who fail to prevent mass gatherings in areas under their jurisdiction.
“So don’t be afraid. I myself would intervene if you are charged when that happens,” Duterte said in Filipino, referring to police officers who would find themselves resorting to force to arrest quarantine violators. “I myself will object. I don’t want the police to be jailed because they’re working.”
He noted how in some cases police officers who had arrested violators faced countercharges for alleged rights violations.
“Go inside the story, human rights [advocates], before you do anything else. Otherwise, there would be an endless debate between you and me,” Duterte said.
He also urged rights groups to “study the law” to understand that there would be instances where police would have no choice but to hit violators who fight back.
Several mass gatherings have been noted in recent weeks, especially after Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal transitioned to a general community quarantine (GCQ) last May 15.
Prior to this, the said areas were under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) last March due to a COVID-19 surge.
The mass gatherings include a feast celebration in Baclaran, Parañaque, and a boxing match initiated by several barangay officers in Tondo, Manila — despite Duterte’s warning against such gatherings.
All the incidents, including the initial superspreader event at a Caloocan resort, are being investigated by the Philippine National Police.
Duterte warned police officers, however, against using excessive force – although he advised them to shoot back at those who would resist them with firearms.
Human rights groups, along with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), have repeatedly criticized the Duterte administration for alleged rights violations in the implementation of its war against illegal drugs.
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