Palace rejects caning of physical distancing violators

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2020 04:06 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2020 11:14 PM

Palace rejects caning of physical distancing violators 1
Manila police place road markings for the position of stalls as well as walking spaces for market-goers while still following physical distancing protocols at the Divisoria Market in Manila, Nov. 27, 2020. Despite the pandemic, people are expected to flock to Divisoria, a traditional source of cheap merchandise, with less than a month before Christmas. ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Malacañang rejected Monday a police threat to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Philippines sought to arrest the spread of the coronavirus during the Christmas season.
 
Joint Task Force COVID Shield head, police Lt. General Cesar Binag earlier said law enforcers would use 1-meter "yantok" or rattan sticks to measure physical distancing and hit violators in crowded areas like markets, shopping centers, and churches. 

"Hindi po pupuwedeng gamitin iyan na pang-hit o pampalo dahil hindi naman po iyan pinapayagan sa ating batas at regulasyon ng PNP," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters. 

(That cannot be used to hit or cane people because that is not allowed in our law and the regulations of PNP.)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) earlier said caning might lead to humiliation and trauma. 

“Violence, even in its slightest suggestion, is not the best way to address the pandemic,” said CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia.  

Video courtesy of PTV

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The Philippines celebrates one of the world's longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centers despite the pandemic.

Authorities have apprehended, warned, and penalized around 700,000 people since March for violating measures such as ignoring physical distancing and not wearing masks, police data shows.

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed one of the world's strictest and longest coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March, grinding the economy to a halt. Restrictions were partially removed in June to allow more businesses to reopen.

For the holidays, the government banned Christmas parties, family reunions and carol singing outside homes, while an earlier plan to allow minors to visit to shopping malls was scrapped.

- With a report from Reuters