MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday assured the public that the government will not condone any human rights abuses amid the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and some parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance following concerns over the supposed human rights violations committed by some local government units (LGUs) against ECQ offenders who defied quarantine and health protocols.
In a press statement, Roque ensured that concerned government agencies would act on the alleged violations of human rights once they receive formal complaints.
“As we are not fully aware of the details of such violations, we will appreciate receipt of detailed information of the same for proper action by the appropriate agencies,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under ECQ on March 16 while some local government units in Visayas and Mindanao also imposed similar measure in their respective localities to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
The Commission on Human Rights and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers have stressed that human rights must be upheld during the ECQ period which is set to expire on April 30.
Roque defended LGUs, saying that they are merely enforcing the law as “reasonably strict as possible for the full protection of our people.”
“The Palace takes note on the efforts of the local government units on how they devise and operationalize social distancing and other preventive measures under the enhanced community quarantine,” he said.
Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, quarantine violators will either get jailed for two months or pay a fine of PHP10,000 up to PHP1 million, or both.
As of April 18, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that 130,177 individuals have violated the quarantine rules.
Roque said the Department of the Interior and Local Government would make sure that LGUs and the PNP are respecting human rights while they are dealing with individuals who continue to disregard the ECQ guidelines.
“The Department of the Interior and Local Government, which supervises both the LGUs and the Philippine National Police, is committed to uphold human rights at all times and will not tolerate any violation during this period of ECQ,” he said.
He said the government is focused on coming up with proper interventions to ensure the effective implementation of ECQ without compromising the human rights of every Filipino.
“While such protection measures spell the difference between life and death, they are implemented well within the rule of law, and are respectful of the human dignity and human rights of everyone,” Roque said.
During the ECQ period, people are prohibited from leaving their homes unless they have to access basic necessities or are exempted from the imposition of quarantine measures.
Roque renewed the government’s appeal for everyone to observe strict home quarantine, social distancing, curfew hours, and other protocols to ensure the successful fight against Covid-19.
“Please do not violate any of the ECQ rules. This entails everyone’s cooperation. We need to fight this pandemic together,” he said.
The Philippines now has 6,087 Covid-19 infections, with 397 deaths and 516 recoveries. (PNA)