Cops told to observe maximum tolerance, respect human rights amid COVID-19 lockdown

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2020 07:49 PM

Police and military personnel man the streets of Sampaloc, Manila, a few hours before the “hard lockdown” on April 23, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday reminded policemen to exercise maximum tolerance and respect human rights in enforcing measures under the enhanced community quarantine.

Speaking to radio DZMM, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield, admitted there were “isolated cases” of alleged police wrongdoing.

“May ilang pulis na pasaway. Hindi namin kinokonsinte ‘yan. Kagaya no’ng minor na pinalo. Talagang hindi uubra ‘yon,” he said.

(There are some errant police officers. We don’t tolerate them. Like that minor who was beaten [with a stick], that doesn’t sit well with us.)

But at the same time, Eleazar urged the public to strictly follow quarantine guidelines and respect police officers enforcing them.

He cited the incident in Barangay Dasmariñas, Makati City where a foreigner reportedly disrespected police after being accosted over quarantine violations.

“It takes 2 to tango in cases of confrontation. Napakahalaga na hindi mainit ang ulo natin (It’s important we maintain cool heads),” said Eleazar, also the PNP’s deputy chief for operations.

“If we respect one another - it’s either we would not do provocative action that would lead to confrontation or we learn how to deescalate tension - either way, it’s a win-win solution,” he added.

The police official reminded the public the police are only enforcing measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Sa totoo lang, ang police ay 'damned if you do, damned if you don’t.' Kung maraming pasaway, kami ang napupulaan. Ngayong pinatupad at kukunti ang pasaway, yari na naman tayo sa pagpapatupad. Eh, bakit raw hinuhuli?" he said.

"Saan po lulugar ang pulis?” he added.

(In all honesty, the police are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If there are quarantine violators, we get criticized. Now that we’re enforcing [quarantine measures], we also get criticized on why we’re arresting them. What should we do?)

To date, the PNP has 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of whom 3 died while 13 recovered. The police force also has 207 probable and 376 suspected COVID-19 cases.

Countrywide, the total coronavirus infections have reached 8,488, as of Thursday, including 1,043 recoveries and 568 fatalities.