CHR expresses concern over Cebu film writer’s warrantless arrest

By Richa Noriega

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed concern on Wednesday over the warrantless arrest of film writer Maria Victoria Beltran after commenting on a Facebook post on the rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Cebu City.

Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN) Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN)

CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that a fully functional democratic society should be able to allow the reasonable exercise of free speech and expression as means to participate in matters concerning public life.

“Arrests should never be made as a default response to dissent. Governments, especially in localities, should be able to engage in a healthy dialogue to enlighten its citizens instead of triggering fear,” de Guia said in a statement.

Last April 19, Beltran posted on Facebook a satirical response to the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz, which said, "9,000+ new cases (All from Zapatera) of COVID-19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now the epicenter in the whole solar system."

CHR spokesperson underscored that human rights cannot be suspended even during public emergencies.

De Guia said that the commission is already investigating the case.

“We hope that we can channel our collective energies and efforts to curbing the transmission of COVID-19 and in addressing the socio-economic needs on the ground brought about by loss of livelihood due to enhanced quarantine, which are equally pressing human rights concerns,” she added.

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