Raps filed vs barangay watchmen over beating, death of curfew violator
Photo shows 26-year-old Ernanie Lumban Jimenez on a hospital bed after he was beaten by barangay enforcers for supposedly violating curfew.
Anakbayan Calamba on Facebook

Raps filed vs barangay watchmen over beating, death of curfew violator

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 12, 2021 - 4:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Charges have been filed against the two barangay watchmen involved in the beating and death of an alleged quarantine violator in Laguna.

This was confirmed in a text message to Philstar.com by Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police. 

To recall, 26-year-old Ernanie Lumban Jimenez collapsed after sustaining injuries he got when barangay tanods or watchmen beat him for violating curfew. 

The two tanods are:

  1. Arjay Bahan Abierta, Quick Response Team member of Barangay Turbina  in Calamba City
  2. Joel Oriel Ortiz, Quick Response Team member of Brgy Turbina, Calamba City

According to a spot report acquired by Philstar.com, Jimenez was "accosted" by personnel of the barangay Quick Response Team "for violation of curfew" when a commotion ensued. 

"The victim collapsed and was brought to Calamba Medical Center Hospital for treatment and later expired," the report read. 

A separate statement by the Laguna arm of progressive group Anakbayan also said that the family of Jimenez was initially refused treatment at the medical center, which was already at capacity. 

"Witnesses said they chased the alleged violator but then kicked him on the ground after curfew hours. But another version of the story says that he ran away and then stumbled," Usana told reporters at a virtual briefing Monday morning. 

"All of these will have to be brought to the attention of the court. It's up to the prosecutor, of course, to have an understanding if there is probable cause to file the information against them." 

Police Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran, who serves as spokesperson for Laguna police, also told Philstar.com that the case only needed the victim's family to press homicide charges before it could proceed. 

CHR slams 'grave abuse of authority'

In a statement sent to reporters, the Commission on Human Rights condemned the incident, pointing out how soon it happened after another quarantine violator was killed. 

"It is strongly condemnable that the curfew policy, which is supposed to protect our right to health, became the reason for the deprivation of the utmost right to life. Beating a person over a minor offense may be tantamount to torture—an attack to human dignity instead of a corrective measure," the commission said. 

"Such excessive punishment can be considered as grave abuse of authority and those who shall be proven to have committed an overreach must be held accountable."

Earlier, the Philippine National Police already said for its part that police officers manning quarantine control points around the so-called NCR+ bubble would no longer be arresting quarantine violators

This comes just days after another quarantine violator in Cavite, 28-year-old Darren Manaog, died after being forced to do 300 rounds of exercises as a punishment by police. The relieved officers were only reassigned but not dismissed. 

"In these difficult times, compassionate and human rights-based approach are essential in implementing quarantine rules to truly address the plight of all, especially the disadvantaged ones," CHR also said. 

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