By Noreen Jazul
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said violations made during the period of enhanced community quarantine “should not be automatically meted with arrest.”
In a statement Friday, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia stressed that the quarantine was enforced as a “health and safety measure,” and not a “peace and order solution.”
The commission’s statement came after it received complaints on arrests made towards “taxi drivers, a homeless senior citizen, as well as minors that did not comply with the curfew rule.”
The CHR spokesperson said President Duterte, himself, said the quarantine is “not tantamount to martial law.”
“Arrests, including warrantless arrests, must be strictly done within the legal standards inscribed in the law. Further, the enhanced community quarantine continues to preserve human rights, due process, and the rule of law as fundamental principles of a democracy,” de Guia said.
CHR also called on the government and all sectors to “proactively address the impacts of the quarantine on the poor sector.”
The poor, CHR said, “need assurance that they will be provided their basic needs while being confined at home.”
“CHR recognizes that the government recently instituted programs to address the socio-economic needs of the vulnerable sectors during the quarantine period. But it must be stressed that this urgent matter requires swiftness and due diligence to ensure that no person will be left behind,” the commission added.
The human rights commission reiterated that the health and safety of the “disadvantaged, marginalized, and the vulnerable,” must likewise be ensured during the enhanced community quarantine.
“The poor ones who subsist on low-paying, hourly or daily wage, who may have hand-to-mouth existence, are compelled to go to work because they won’t be able to put food on the table if they simply stay home. They are also at risk for living in small, cramp spaces that are usually located in crowded, depressed communities,” CHR said.
Meanwhile, CHR also called for a conduct mass testing to complement the already imposed quarantine measures.
“If the supply is limited, the guidelines and protocols must consider those that are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 – these are the elderly people as well as those with underlying medical conditions,” CHR said.
“Missteps in prioritization may have dire consequences considering reports that there are already persons under investigation (PUIs) that are dying without getting the results of their tests,” the commission added.