By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Five barangay officials were collared for illegally detaining a suspect COVID-19 patient with his family in their house at Barangay 538 in Sampaloc, Manila.
LOCKED IN — Five barangay officials use wood and metal wire to seal the front door of a suspect coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patient and his family at Barangay 538 in Sampaloc, Manila. Police arrested the barangay officials on Friday, June 5 after prohibiting the victim from leaving his house, despite learning that he already tested negative for the disease. (Photo courtesy of Manila Police District-Special Mayor's Reaction Team / MANILA BULLETIN)
Arrested were Bobby Biason, 48, and Marvin Simbahan, 27, both barangay councilors; Ferdinand Gatdula, 56, barangay executive officer; and Epifanio Rempis, 49, and Jesus Dela Cruz, both barangay watchmen.
Elements of the Manila Police District-Special Mayor's Reaction Team (MPD-SMaRT) and the Sampaloc Police Station nabbed the suspects on Friday (June 5) at about 3:30 p.m.
MPD-SMaRT chief Maj. Rosalino Ibay Jr. told reporters that the victim, a frontline worker who serves food to dialysis patients, tested positive for COVID-19 in Quezon City.
After the barangay officials learned that he was being monitored for the disease on Wednesday, they locked him in his house with his wife and children aged 3, 10, 12, and 16. Police said they sealed the victim's front door with wood and metal wire.
A relative of the suspect COVID-19 patient sought police assistance after the incident, Ibay said.
Before he was locked inside his house, the victim underwent a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. After learning that he tested negative for the disease, he asked if he could leave his house to fetch his results, but the barangay officials prohibited him from doing so.
The barangay officials reportedly told police that the victim was being "unruly" but Ibay said the suspects "overreacted."
The arrested barangay officials will be facing charges for violating City Ordinance No. 8624 or the Anti-COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020, Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code on arbitrary detention.