Management of Taguig condo to seek legal action vs cops who barged into compound
In this March 7, 2020 photo, fewer people were seen on the streets of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos
Management of Taguig condo to seek legal action vs cops who barged into compound
(Philstar.com) - April 20, 2020 - 12:50pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 1, 2:54 p.m.)  — The management of a high-end condominium in Taguig City said it will seek legal and civil actions against the policemen enforcing quarantine rules who allegedly barged into its premises and threatened residents “in a very unseemly and agitated way.”

The board of directors of the Pacific Plaza Towers (PPT) in Bonifacio Global City, in a letter to the condominium’s residents, condemned the presence of Philippine National Police personnel in the community as “extremely upsetting, clearly inappropriate and possibly illegal.”

Four members of the PNP entered the building’s premises past 4 p.m. Sunday to check the condominium’s compliance with quarantine guidelines after claiming to have received reports that some of the residents were not practicing physical distancing, not wearing face masks, ignoring restrictions on mass gathering and that PPT had not closed its open areas, its president Erwin Elechicon said.

The cops who were armed and “apparently agitated” threatened to arrest the security staff who attempted to prevent their entry.

Elechicon said the policemen led by Major Joseph Austria went to the back garden and pool area where about at least six residents—all practicing physical distancing—were walking or sitting away from each other, “taking in the afternoon sun.”

“Despite this, the armed policemen, and particularly the major (who did not wear a face mask) accosted some of the residents there (including a member of your board), berated them loudly for not following the guidelines and curtly shouted at them to go away,” the condominium’s president said.

In a video posted by one of the residents on Facebook, a cop can be heard saying: “You, go back! I’ll you (sic) arrest all of you. Can’t you understand the policy of our government? Don’t look at me like that, ah! Please try to cooperate.”

Legal, civil suits

In a statement, the Taguig City government said it has tapped the assistance of the police and other agencies in ensuring that quarantine rules are strictly enforced following reports that common areas in some subdivisions and residential buildings in the city are still open.

“This applies to both public and private establishments as this is for the general welfare of everyone. The ECQ rules and regulations apply equally to all communities,” it said.

Elechicon said the condominium’s management has complied with the guidelines, including shutting down the building’s gym and pool and practicing social distancing and the wearing of masks.

He added that PPT’s legal counsel is already working on the appropriate action, which could include restraining order against similar actions and a criminal complaint against the policemen involved. A civil action for possible violation of the residents’ property and personal rights may be also filed.

Foreigners who are residents of the building have also informed their embassies about the incident and “asked to flag this with the Philippine government contacts they have.”

“It is a disappointment, to say the least, that we should be treated in this way by our authorities. The ‘enemy’ is out there and it’s called COVID-19. It is certainly not us at the Pacific Plaza Towers, where we all feel that we are part of the same team, with the same objective—to remove the source of COVID-19 from our lives,” Elechicon said.

He added: “We do not deserve this; and we certainly should expect an explanation, an assurance of our safety, and due respect from our authorities.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque noted that under the constitution, the right of people to be secure in their houses shall be inviolable.

"It (right) cannot be violated without an order from the court," Roque said.

"So we will investigate that and comply with what is stated in the constitution," he added.

Roque said law enforcers cannot just enter private property if they are not invited, if they do not have a search warrant or if they do not know of any illegal activity happening inside the property. 

Abuses during Luzon-wide lockdown

As Philippine authorities impose drastic measures to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus, there have been reports of abuses against quarantine violators.

Last month, curfew violators in Santa Cruz, Laguna were locked up in a dog cage, while quarantine violators of Barangay San Isidro in Parañaque were ordered to sit under the heat of the sun. A video online also showed a youth, presumably a curfew violator, can be seen lying inside a coffin.

A police official was also caught in an ABS-CBN News video last March hitting a resident of the Muslim Town compound in Quiapo, Manila with a stick while shouting expletives. The officer can be also heard on video saying people who leave their homes would be shot.

Early in April, 21 residents of Sitio San Roque in Quezon City were arrested after demanding food and financial aid during a protest. Accounts of the dispersal said that police violently hit the protesters.

United Nations human rights experts earlier said measures put in place to arrest the spread of the new coronavirus should not be used to suppress human rights.

“We encourage states to remain steadfast in maintaining a human rights-based approach to regulating this pandemic in order to facilitate the emergence of healthy societies with the rule of law and human rights protections,” they said in March. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Alexis Romero 

 

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.

The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.

According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.

April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Batangas, one of the provinces hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, has reported no new cases of the disease for two consecutive days.

The provincial DOH Office says the number of COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 91 with no new cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

Lipa City has the most cases with 26, followed by Batangas City (21) and Nasugbu (11).

Tanauan City has the fourth most cases with eight, followed by Bauan (5) and Alitagtag (3). Cuenca and Sto. Tomas City had two cases each, while the municipalities of Calaca, Lemery, Lian, Lobo, Mabini, Mataas na Kahoy, Padre Garcia, San Jose, San Juan, San Pascual and Taal had one case each, respectively. — The Filipino Connection

April 29, 2020 - 5:39pm

Quezon City's Task Force Disiplina has been instructed to withdraw its complaint against Michael Rubuia whom city "enforcers" were caught on video beating with sticks over alleged quarantine violations.

The QC government says in the same statement that the enforcers of Task Force Disiplina have been issued show-cause orders for their actions. They may also be put on preventive suspension.

It also says Ruguia will be released to the city's drug rehabilitation center "in view of his positive drug test."

A police report on the April 27 incident did not mention the beating by task force personnel nor that he Ruguia had tested positive for drugs.

More on that incident here: QC to investigate 'local authorities' caught on video beating man lacking face mask

April 28, 2020 - 10:26pm

A 72-year-old Person Deprived of Liberty at the Correctional Institution for Women-Mandaluyong who had tested positive for COVID-19 died on Monday, the Bureau of Corrections says Tuesday.

She was the first confirmed COVID-19 case at the correctional facility and had been hospitalized on April 13 "after experiencing pneumonia symptoms," BuCor says.

"It can be recalled that her admission to the hospital triggered the contact tracing and isolation of those PDL that had contact with her days before she was brought to the hospital," BuCor also says.

Of 130 PDLs tested, 47 have been confirmed to have COVID-19.

A CIW PDL who had been admitted to East Avenue Medical Center on April 13 and who died on April 21 has also been confirmed to have had COVID-19. The results of the test, done on April 14, were only released on Monday.

April 27, 2020 - 2:59pm

Two new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Lipa City on Monday even as the total recoveries jumped to five out of the 26 confirmed cases so far, the Lipa City government said.

Mayor Eric Africa announced that two male patients, ages 78 and 27 years old, tested positive for the virus, raising the city’s total infections to 26 – the most in Batangas province. The Filipino Connection

April 26, 2020 - 3:10pm

Community farms could be a "short cut" to meeting the country's food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caritas Philippines says, citing community farming projects that the Catholic Church in the Philippines is helping.

"The social amelioration program is not efficiently solving our food security problem however we see it as a necessary short-cut solution," Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines says

"Thus we at NASSA/Caritas Philippines strongly urge our government, especially the Department of Agriculture to start mobilizing farmers at the community level while we still have time."

The Department of Agriculture has said urban and community farming is among its strategies toward food security during the pandemic.

Bagaforo says "our community farms are helping deliver fresh vegetables to families severely affected by work suspension in Iligan, Bayombong and Camarines Sur, while a local farmers' cooperative supported by the diocese of Libmanan in Camarines Norte and the Gratia Plena program of the Diocese of San Jose in Nueva Ecija are supplying thousands of sacks of commercial and organic rice to Luzon provinces."

Backyard gardening programs in Iloilo, Bukidnon, Quezon, Leyte, the Samar provinces, Capiz, Oriental Mindoro and Zambales have also helped ensure food security for farming families, he says.

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