'Overzealous enforcement': Binay calls on PNP to take steps in protecting people's rights, health
Sen. Nancy Binay speaks during a Senate hearing on the the economic impacts of the new coronavirus.
Office of Sen. Nancy Binay

'Overzealous enforcement': Binay calls on PNP to take steps in protecting people's rights, health

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - July 2, 2020 - 12:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The national police should train its personnel on the correct situational handling of cases, particularly in terms of health measures that are expected to be strictly observed, a senator said on Thursday. 

In a statement issued Thursday morning, Sen. Nancy Binay pointed out that past incidents involving the Philippine National Police violated their own rules along with minimum health standards instituted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cases of police personnel violating protocols have been piling up amid the enforcement of both the general and enhanced community quarantines. 

RELATED: 'By the book': A look at quarantine incidents and police operational procedures | Students allege harassment, procedural violations in Iligan City protest arrests

"The PNP should look at how their staff can avoid COVID-19 even those they encounter. Not just in patrol cars or in the precincts. What should be their protocol to keep everyone safe in the new normal," she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"For some reason, the police have become over-zealous in enforcing public health directions to the point that they have put to risk the health of people, and violated basic rights," she noted.

According to data from the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the quarantine enforcement arm of the government's coronavirus task force, 211,064 quarantine or curfew violators have been apprehended since enhanced community quarantine was hoisted on March 17. 64,515 were arrested. 

Binay in her statement pointed to the "heavy-handed" arrest of more than 100 Filipinos at a bar, the warrantless arrests of jeepney drivers in Caloocan, the arrests of LGBTQIA+ members at a Pride March protest, and the attempted arrest of media intern as examples of "violations of basic health and institutional protocols."

The likes of Sen. Koko Pimentel and Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Metro Manila police chief, face separate raps for breaching quarantine rules themselves, while the latter has gone as far as urging the public to "move on" from the incident after issuing an apology who also denied his wrongdoing. 

"The PNP should be aware of its role in public health emergencies. Neither the COVID situation nor the expired Bayanihan Act [give] the police a free pass for frantic policing practices. Actually, they can just expressly issue a reprimand, warning, or caution, but what the public sees is the blatant disregard of civil rights, and violations of health protocols," she said.

"The PNP must take steps in dealing with low-level offenses in its public health response. Don't be excessive to the extent that you need to arrest someone not wearing a mask, or just taking a video or expressing how they feel. People are disproportionately punished while some violators are absolved," she added.

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