Quezon City enforcer suspended for beating up vendor

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A member of the Quezon City task force implementing lockdown measures has been suspended after he was caught on video beating up a fish vendor with a yantok or rattan stick and dragging him to the ground after allegedly resisting arrest for violating guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine.

Joel Laurel was suspended for 60 days pending investigation of the incident by the city’s legal office, Ranulfo Ludovica, who heads Task Force Disiplina, said yesterday.

Ludovica said Laurel went out of bounds when he struck Michael Rubuia several times with a stick along Panay Avenue in Barangay South Triangle on Sunday.

“He beat the vendor more than five or six times,” Ludovica said. “It’s abuse of authority.”

Laurel was seen on video reprimanding Rubuia for not wearing a face mask while selling fish.

Although he agreed that Laurel’s action was excessive, Ludovica said the use of physical force was necessary as Rubuia resisted arrest.

Drug test

Rubuia has tested positive for drug use, Ludovica claimed.

“He was violent because he was under the influence of drugs,”Ludovica said. 

He said they would file charges against Rubuia for violating Republic Act 11332 or the Bayanihan Act.

Ludovica also clarified that it was only Laurel who beat up the victim while the rest of the barangay enforcers only helped to restrain Rubuia.

Violence, abuses not tolerated

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has ordered an investigation of the incident, vowing to prosecute anyone found to have violated the law.

“The local government will never condone any acts of violence, abuses or violation of human rights regardless of justification, especially when committed by a city official,” city hall said.

“While the city government reiterates its resolve to fully enforce quarantine protocols, all its personnel and agents are reminded to conduct themselves with proper decorum and restraint and to observe compassion and tolerance, especially in these difficult times,” it added.

Malacañang welcomed the move of Belmonte to order a probe on the incident, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government will also look into the incident, DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Christina Mendez

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