Authorities asked to probe 'humiliating' abuses by barangay officials enforcing curfew

Authorities asked to probe 'humiliating' abuses by barangay officials enforcing curfew
Curfew violators, including two minors, are locked up inside a dog cage in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Eric Panisan Ambrocio Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — A human rights watchdog called on authorities to investigate reports of village officials committing abuses against individuals accused of violating curfew and quarantine measures.

In a statement Wednesday, Amnesty International Philippines said it has observed a “heightened pattern of misconduct” perpetrated by barangay officials when enforcing quarantine protocols.

“Incidents of humiliation and abuse have been reported since the start of the community quarantine such as putting curfew violators inside dog cages; beating up people with sticks; and most recently, sexually humiliating members of the LGBTQI+ community,” Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines executive director, said.

According to a Rappler report, three members of LGBTQI+ community in Brgy. Pandacaqui in Mexico, Pampanga were ordered to kiss each other and do a sexy dance in front of a minor for violating the city’s curfew.

Amnesty International Philippines said national agencies should investigate reports of ill-treatment and penalize barangay officials and members of civilian voluntary groups who may be found to be responsible.

Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, no person placed under investigation or held in custody shall be subjected to physical, psychological or mental harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act that impairs his or her free will or in any manner that demeans or degrades human dignity.

“Acts of abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, must not be tolerated. Skirting the law especially during the COVID-19 pandemic only further enables the already prevalent culture of impunity in the country,” Olano said.

“The law must be properly implemented and abusive officials held accountable even during lockdowns,” he added.

In a separate statement, Gabriela Women’s Party urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government to impose stricter penalties on officials who perpetrate a culture of violence and abuse.

DILG earlier said it will warn local governments that use non-standard—even cruel and unusual—punishments in enforcing curfews meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 that these are not allowed.

The national government on Tuesday extended the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon by two weeks to further stem the spread of the new coronavirus. The lockdown aimed at arresting the spread of the new coronavirus was initially scheduled to expire on April 12. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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