MANILA — The Philippines' Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday said it received 495 complaints and requests for assistance on alleged torture and inhumane treatments amid the implementation of quarantine rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, among the complaints are 129 cases of torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment.
There are also 68 complaints for alleged arrest and detention, as well as 123 cases related to the distribution of government assistance such as relief goods and cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program.
"Ang bawat paglabag sa batas ay may karampatang parusa. Malinaw sa amin 'yon. Ang panawagan lang ng CHR ay sana, alinsunod sa overall general objectives (of anti-COVID-19 law and other measures), at pangalawa, ito ay naayon sa batas," De Guia said.
(Every violation of the law has a corresponding punishment. That is clear to us. But the CHR hopes everything is aligned with the overall general objectives, and secondly, in accordance with the law.)
Man dragged for trying to cross barangay boundary
Among those who complained before the CHR is a Manila resident who was allegedly prevented from passing through a neighboring barangay.
He claimed that at 3:30 p.m. on April 28, officials of Barangay 733 dragged him without telling him what his violation was.
"Yung isa, parang hineadlock ako mula sa likod. Pagkatapos, dumating sa puntong hilahan na siya. Pagkatapos, merong naka-blue na talagang tinulak ako na parang galit na galit. Kaya ginawa nila, kinaladkad ako," the complainant said.
(One of them had me in a headlock from behind. And then, it came to a point that I was being dragged. And then, there was one in blue who pushed me as though he was very mad. So, what they did was just to drag me.)
He wrote a detailed account of the incident, which his mother emailed to the CHR National Capital Region office.
The CHR replied that the alleged violation committed may have been physical injuries punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
"With respect to your request for our office to investigate your case, we will conduct a formal investigation as soon as the Enhanced Community Quarantine is lifted as all our employees are currently working from home and not doing field investigation as of the moment," the CHR told the complainant in its reply.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Barangay 733 Chairman Noel Raga denied the claim of the complainant.
"Wala pong katotohanan na kinakaladkad. Dapat po, marami siyang mga bruises, siguro mga palatandaan na siya ay kinaladkad, nasugat," Raga said.
(There is no truth the complainant was dragged. He should have sustained many bruises or injuries to probably indicate that he was dragged.)
Asked if the CCTV footage of the barangay will prove that the complainant was not harmed, Raga said the footage is no longer available.
The CHR told the complainant that the barangay officials involved in the alleged mauling may be summoned "soon" when the lockdown is lifted.
The case will also be endorsed to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, CHR assured.