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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Preventing lockdown abuses

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Preventing lockdown abuses

Even before the start of the strictest enhanced community quarantine on Aug. 6, the Philippine National Police has set up border checkpoints around the National Capital Region. For a week before Aug. 6, the NCR is already under general community quarantine with “heightened and additional” restrictions. Shifting to heightened GCQ followed by a two-week ECQ is meant to stop the spread of the more virulent Delta variant as cases spike in the NCR.

Last year’s ECQ should provide lessons on the proper implementation of a lockdown, with the recorded abuses providing cautionary tales for enforcers. In April at a checkpoint in Quezon City, police M/Sgt. Daniel Florendo Jr. fatally shot in the back retired Army corporal Winston Ragos, who was reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even worse in Ilocos Sur, two minors were apprehended by police staff sergeants Marawi Ubaldo Torda and Randy Vintero Ramos for violating the curfew in San Juan town on June 27, and were raped and molested. When the 15-year-old molestation victim filed a complaint against their assailants on July 2, she was trailed by the suspects on her way home and was shot dead. Her 18-year-old cousin lodged the rape complaint against Ramos, who has surrendered together with Torda. Both are facing murder charges.

The abuses did not stop there. This year as COVID cases surged, 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo was apprehended on April 1 for violating the curfew after he was seen buying drinking water at past 6 p.m. in General Trias, Cavite. As punishment, Peñaredondo was made to do 300 rounds of squat pumping exercises in Plaza Malabon in front of the municipal hall before being allowed to go home. The next day, he could barely move and eventually suffered seizures. He died on April 3.

The best way to enforce pandemic restrictions is through public cooperation. Such abuses can instead generate resentment and even open defiance of health protocols. Police, barangay and local government personnel must ensure that such abuses will not be repeated as ECQ is restored.

ECQ LOCKDOWN
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