The Commission on Human Rights has stepped into the apprehension of quarantine violators in Silay, Negros Occidental, who were ordered to march from a police station to a covered court for the conduct of a seminar.
In a statement, lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said CHR’s office in Region VI would conduct a probe on the incident to also hear the side of police officers in Silay City.
She reacted to a video posted on social media showing a group apprehended for allegedly violating the city ordinance mandating the wearing of face masks.
“The CHR agrees that we need to continuously need to work together to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 virus by faithfully adhering to health safety protocols set by experts,” she said.
“However, as we have repeatedly stressed, addressing the current pandemic must always be guided by human rights principles. After all, the present national health crisis is a human rights issue -- not a mere law enforcement agenda,” she added.
She reminded law enforcers to adhere to human rights-based policing, including respect for every person’s dignity.
“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 barred by Convention Against Torture signed by the Philippines,” De Guia said.
“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 in Silay City toward addressing this human rights concern,” she noted.