Rule of men? IBP denounces 'inhumane penalties' vs quarantine violators

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2020 03:18 PM

MANILA — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) denounced Monday the unlawful punishments being imposed on violators of the enhanced community quarantine, following the killing of an alleged quarantine violator who turned out to be a former soldier suffering from mental disorder. 

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa criticized the “inhumane penalties” imposed by authorities.

"We call on our law enforcers, gawin niyo naman tama, gawin niyong regular 'yung inyong alituntunin at enforcement. Hindi pwede depende sa timpla ng panahon, timpla ng taong nag e-enforce. We have to understand that this is rule of law, not rule of men," he said. 

Police last week shot dead Cpl. Winston Ragos, who had post-traumatic stress disorder, for alleged violation of lockdown measures in Quezon City. 

Some police officers also face investigation for alleged trespassing into a condominium compound in Taguig, where they supposedly shouted at residents who were practicing physical distancing. 

In Bacoor, Cavite, the police had violators lined up and brought to the cemetery where they were lectured on how disobedience to quarantine rules can lead to catching the virus and death.

"Nakakatuwa pag pinapanuod natin pero in the long term, may epekto 'yan sa ating confidence sa ating government. Mae-erode ang paniniwala sa gobyerno,” Cayosa said.

Cayosa said some parameters on imposing penalties were somehow disregarded since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine. 

He called the system a “dangerous vicious cycle” noting law enforcment have started dealing with people and circumstances their own way.

“Ang nangyayari kasi wala na, eh kung ano lang ang feeling nung authority. Etong barangay na ito dahil makulit, pinag zumba na lang namin. Kinabukasan matigas ulo, eto binaril ko. Mag kakaiba eh. And then we complain, ang titigas ng ulo niyo di kayo nakakaintindi, di kayo sumusunod. Sagot ng taong bayan - ano ang aming susundan?” he explained.

The IBP president added: "Matatanggap ba natin, na 'yung may mental defect 'yung tao, pinagbabaril? Tatanggapin ba natin? Eh ganun kasi emergency eh? If the perception, or belief of people, pwede naman mag imbento ngayon kasi emergency remains, or grows, that leads us into trouble. That's the frame of mind that we wish to avoid."

Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline De Guia said law enforcers should be careful of “inventing” such punishments. She reiterated that the rule of law must be followed at all times, at all costs.

“When you enforce punishments, which is a consequence of a wrong committed, which we are not against noh, ang sabi lang natin sana in accordance with the law, hindi sumobra, hindi sariling punishment nila, hindi sariling inimbento nila at most importantly hindi dapat lumalabag sa batas,” De Guia told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.

The CHR added that they are also conducting an investigation into the fatal shooting of Ragos. 

“We are both saddened and alarmed with what'S happening right now. Our government as well as our security forces, should always remind themselves that it is a health measure and not a peace and order measure,” De Guia added.

The CHR urged law enforcement to protect the people, citing the poor and unprivileged who are now most vulnerable to abuse. 

“Kailangan humanitarian 'yung approach ng ating security sector, hindi military approach. Kailangan maintindihan nila the purpose of the quarantine is to save lives,” De Guia said.