CHR seeks public health, not military approach in COVID-19 fight


Posted at Apr 27 2020 04:51 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2020 05:07 PM

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MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights said Monday government should fight the COVID-19 pandemic using a public health approach instead of a military mindset.

The CHR so far received some 250 complaints from the public covering arrests, punishment and distribution of relief goods and cash aid, according to its spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia.

"Ang general rule sana ang ipatupad ng pamahalaan is not employing a military approach but a humanitarian approach. Dapat nilang maalala na hindi ito peace and order measure kundi health measure," she told radio DZMM, adding that the commission supports government's strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

(We hope the general rule will be to employ not a military approach but a humanitarian approach. We must remember that this is not a peace and order measure, but a health measure.)

"Yung kalaban naman ay hindi armado, kung hindi isang disease at public in general na hindi naman armed."

(We are fighting a disease, not armed men and the public in general are unarmed.)

Punishment should be commensurate to the offense and authorities cannot "invent" penalties that are outside the law and the Constitution, which prohibits torture and inhumane forms of punishment, she said.

The commission is also looking into a policeman's fatal shooting of former soldier Winston Ragos near a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City last week.

The CHR is investigating if the use of force was necessary in the incident.

"Was it really necessary to use a gun whereas the victim did not have with him visibly a gun nor was it pointed to the policemen, therefore asking was there really an actual danger," she said.

"'Yung ratio ng pulis vs victim implies already that they have superior strength. Could they not have subdued the victim instead, and couldn’t they have shot the victim at a non-fatal part and instead disarm him rather than firing fatal shot?"