By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A human rights lawyer said President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to shoot violators of the enhanced community quarantine dead could worsen impunity.
Josalee Deinla, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said, “This is a marching order for law enforcement authorities to use their weapon against the people unlawfully and without basis.”
Duterte issued the remark in a public address on April 1, following the arrest of 21 urban poor residents of sitio San Roque, barangay Pag-asa in Quezon City who were asking for food aid.
“This only confirms the state as de facto populist, not to mention, macho strongman authoritarianism,” said Deinla during the second episode of Bulatlatan entitled “#COVID-19: Lockdown, Double Standards and Impunity,” April 2.
Deinla called on the people to be vigilant and hold into account those who violate rights guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution.
She said that filing a complaint maybe a challenge because courts, although now working on a skeletal force, has no capacity to process complaints filed electronically. But when the time comes that the lockdown is lifted, Deinla said the people can act and seek accountability.
Deinla said it is important for people to stay vigilant and document possible violations that they experience so that they can file charges after the Luzon-wide lockdown.
“We can always seek accountability in a variety of ways, multi-platform and multi-arena,” she said.
Human rights exist even in emergency situations
Contrary to claims of Interior Undersecretary Martin Dino, Deinla said human rights still exist even during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine. In fact, Deinla said, that people should always protect human rights in extraordinary days such as this.
“This is our only defense to the abuse of power by the government especially law enforcers who are armed to force us to obedience to implement the law,” she said referring to the Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
She said that even though that the liberty of abode and travel is limited due to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, this does not mean that state forces can easily arrest and detain people.
The rights under the Bill of Rights remain and (law enforcers) should adhere to it, she added.
The NUPL has launched Know Your Rights advisories, which were translated into different languages. Those who have legal concerns can also send questions to the NUPL Facebook page.
Deinla also slammed the filing of charges against the residents of sitio San Roque who protested against the delayed government assistance for their community.