“We must ensure that any emergency measures, including states of emergency, are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory, have a specific focus and duration, and take the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.”
MANILA – As the number of patients infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic increases in the Philippines, law enforcement authorities continue to intensify their crackdown against alleged “enhanced community quarantine violators.”
On April 25, Sunday, Rexon Aumentado, an engineering student of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) was arrested and detained at the police community precinct in Sta. Mesa Manila for allegedly violating the ECQ protocol. In a Facebook post, PUP Office of the Student Regent (OSR) said Aumentado was on his way to the market when policemen apprehended him.
“Contrary to PCP #8’s report, Aumentado is authorized to go out as he carries valid and legitimate Home Quarantine Pass (HQP) verified by Barangay 587; apparently, it was Barangay 587 who made a mistake in issuing double-entry HQP,” the OSR said.
Meanwhile, a video also went viral today, April 27, when a policeman assaulted a foreigner inside a posh village in Makati City. Javier Salvador Parra, the foreign resident, confronted the policeman who was fining him P1,000 because his helper was not wearing a face mask while watering the plants outside of the house.
The two incidents are just the most recent examples of how Philippine authorities disregard human rights in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres released his report which highlights a more inclusive approach in responding to the pandemic, reiterating that “the threat is the virus, not the people.”
“We must ensure that any emergency measures, including states of emergency, are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory, have a specific focus and duration, and take the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health,” Guterres said.
“The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law,” the UN official added.
Guterres said that COVID-19 has exposed not only weaknesses in the delivery of public services and structural inequalities but also how human rights was undermined as the governments respond to the pandemic.
“We see the disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response,” Guterres said.
“Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic,” he added.
Guterres said “governments must be transparent, responsive and accountable.”
“Civic space and press freedom are critical. Civil society organizations and the private sector have essential roles to play,” he said. “Authorities need to be open and transparent in their decision-making and willing to listen to and respond to criticism.”
Guterres’s report put human rights at the center of the response and recovery from COVID-19.
“By respecting human rights in this time of crisis, we will build more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow,” he said.
Guterres report included the participation of the people as part of the response to the pandemic.
*United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres featured image grabbed from the United Nations website.