Joy Belmonte upholds maximum tolerance policy in QC, fires enforcer who mauled fish vendor

Published May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chito Chavez

The Quezon City (QC) government on Saturday said it has never allowed its men to abuse their power and use excessive force when implementing quarantine protocols.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (Major Joy Belmonte / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (Major Joy Belmonte / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Mayor Joy Belmonte insisted that maximum tolerance must always be the standard even when confronted by recalcitrant enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) violators.

The statement was issued after the city government was repeatedly criticized after its Task Force Disiplina (discipline) arrested and allegedly mauled fish vendor Michael Rubuia, 38, for supposedly hurling invectives and kicking the apprehending enforcers.

Reports disclosed that Rubuia was arrested for not having a quarantine pass and face mask while selling fish at Panay Avenue on April 26.

Viral videos of the incident showed several Task Force Disiplina personnel in Quezon City dragging Rubuia, 38, along Panay Avenue on Monday. Rubuia was seen kicking and struggling to set himself free.

Task Force Disiplina head and former Quezon City Councilor Ranulfo Ludovica insisted that his men used reasonable force in arresting the fish vendor, who he said violently reacted after being questioned for violating quarantine protocols.

However, the city government, despite Ludovica’s explanation, terminated the services of the Task Force Disiplina member who inflicted physical injuries on Rubuia.

In a statement, the city government said it “recognizes the difficulties faced by our frontliners tasked with enforcing community quarantine. However these challenges should never be used as an excuse to abuse power.”

To prevent such incidents from occurring again and in support of the city’s policy of maximum tolerance and restraint in the enforcement of the quarantine, the statement read that “all city officers and personnel tasked with the interdiction or apprehension of quarantine violators shall be equipped with body cameras to ensure the just execution of enforcement procedures.”

The city government paved the way for Rubuia’s release from detention.

Before his release, Belmonte said Rubuia was given meals and examined, assessed, and evaluated by a doctor from the Quezon City Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Facility (TAHANAN), who recommended him for outpatient treatment.

Rubuia’s injuries were also treated by a city health doctor, prior to being cleared of COVID-19 symptoms and the need for self-quarantine.

Rubuia was reunited with his family after 16 years of separation and had the opportunity to cradle his five-month-old granddaughter, Belmonte said.

“In closing, the City extends its best wishes to Michael and his family. May their reunion be filled with joy and good health,’’ the statement read.