The Philippine National Police said Monday the two village watchmen or tanod who allegedly assaulted a curfew violator to death in Calamba, Laguna would be charged with homicide.
In a press conference, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said Calamba Police chief Lt. Col. Jonathan Villamor would file the homicide complaint.
Usana said: “The Calamba chief of police will file a complaint against the two village watchmen because accordingly there were witnesses in the incident.”
The suspects denied thrashing the victim.
In a related development, the Commission on Human Rights condemned the Calamba barangay officials for beating up the curfew violator.
“It is deeply concerning that this happened only a few days after the death of a curfew violator in Cavite,” lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“It is strongly condemnable that the curfew policy, which is supposed to protect our right to health, became the reason for the deprivation of the utmost right to life,” she added.
Another curfew violator, Ernanie Lumban, died after supposedly being beaten up by a team of barangay watchmen in Purok 2, Barangay Turbina, Calamba City, Laguna.
“Beating a person over a minor offense may be tantamount to torture—an attack to human dignity instead of a corrective measure,” De Guia said.
“Such excessive punishment can be considered as grave abuse of authority and those who shall be proven to have committed an overreach must be held accountable,” she noted.
Usana said, quoting witnesses, the tanods ran after the victim and beat him up around 10:30 to 11 p.m. on April 7. The victim reportedly went out to buy food.
Ernanie's brother, Gledien, said he looked for the victim after he failed to go home on time. He then saw his brother badly injured and slumped near the barangay hall.
“We reiterate our call to impose community service for quarantine violators, as an alternative to imposition of intense physical punishments or excessive fines, as earlier recommended by Justice
Secretary Menardo Guevarra. In these difficult times, compassionate and human rights-based approach are essential in implementing quarantine rules to truly address the plight of all, especially the disadvantaged ones,” De Guia said.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas ordered all policemen to stop arresting violators of health and safety protocols amid the implementation of strict quarantine measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a press statement, Usana said Sinas also tasked police commanders not to accept quarantine violators being referred to or turned over by village security officers.
“Our Chief PNP just wanted to warn the violators and remind them of the need to follow the minimum health safety protocol but in case of repeat offenders, they could be fined or render community service. So the instruction is clear, violators should not be arrested,” he said.
Usana explained that arresting or filing charges against quarantine violators was impractical since violators would have to be brought to the police or station.
In the case of those who violate the uniform curfew hours which was adjusted from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Usana said the penalties that would be imposed on the violators should be settled at the barangay level.
He added that only violations of the existing laws relating to peace and order and criminal activities should be attended to by the police.
Last week, the chief of police of General Trias City, Cavite and two police officers were relieved from their posts, after a quarantine violator who was turned over to a police station died after being forced to do strenuous physical exercise.
The two policemen who ordered the physical exercise are also facing criminal and administrative charges.
Based on PNP data, a total 37,275 violators were accosted in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite since March 29 when the four areas were placed under enhanced community quarantine.
Of the figure, a total 21,897 were warned, 13,924 were fined, and 1,454 violators were subjected to community service.