By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Child Rights Network (CRN), the largest alliance of organizations that uphold children’s rights legislation in the Philippines, is extremely concerned over reports of violations made against children in the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and other parts of the country.
While the CRN lauds the government’s efforts in containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the organization expressed its utmost concern regarding the unjust and patently illegal acts committed against citizens, particularly children.
According to reports received by CRN, there have been posts circulating on social media that local authorities were disciplining children by putting them in a dog cage in Laguna and a coffin in Cavite. These were alleged punishment for violating the curfew.
Unfortunately, the CRN believes that there are many more cruel and inhumane measures being imposed in far-flung communities. Instead of helping address the issue of COVID-19, the CRN said these acts of abuse are only aggravating the situation.
The organization highlighted the statement earlier made by the United Nations (UN) treaty body chairpersons that “a state of emergency, or any other security measures, should be guided by human rights principles and should not, in any circumstances, be an excuse to quash dissent.”
The CRN said that there must be clear-cut guidelines provided by the government because varying interpretations of the implementation of the ECQ might jeopardize fundamental human rights, particularly children’s rights.
The CRN called on the public to help report cases of abuse against children, and likewise enjoined the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to immediately issue a memorandum circular that spells the limits and boundaries on how LGUs can instill discipline and enforce community quarantine in their respective areas.
This memorandum, according to the CRN, should explicitly prohibit any act that threatens life and liberty, unlawful coercion, and illegal arrest. The CRN also stressed that appropriate cases should be filed against non-compliant and erring officials.
“We call on all Filipinos to stand as one as we hurdle through this dark period. Let us safeguard the rights and welfare of our children, and ensure that their rights do not become collateral damage in the bid to quash the threat of COVID-19. Violence is neither the antidote nor the vaccine that will contain this coronavirus,” the CRN said in a statement.