Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday sought a full Senate investigation on the local government units’ (LGUs) enforcement of community quarantine protocols after a Quezon City official threatened to kill people for violating the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) protocols.
Hontiveros, in particular, called on the Senate Committee on Local Government to probe Quezon City Task Force Disiplina head Ranulfo “Rannie” Ludovica, as well as other documented cases of abuse, violence, and illegal acts committed by local officials during the enforcement of quarantine rules.
“Hindi ito ang unang beses na may ganitong pang-aabuso at karahasan mula sa ilang local government officials habang nagpapatupad ng quarantine rules (This is not the first time that we encountered abuse and violence from local government officials while they are implementing quarantine rules),” Hontiveros said.
“In Metro Manila and other areas where community quarantine have been imposed, there have been too many cases of human rights abuse and other illegal acts which we need to stop,” she said.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 489, Hontiveros called for an in-depth probe into the brutal mauling and detention of a fish vendor by members of the task force headed by Ludovica last April for failing to wear a mask.
She noted that cases of abuse by local officials during the pandemic include the locking of violators in dog cages, keeping them under the intense heat of the sun, or subjecting them to acts of torture and sexual violence such as by forcing them to kiss one another.
The senator pointed out that these actions are in violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713), as well as the prohibition against cruel and inhuman punishment under the 1987 Constitution itself.
“Bakit pagpatay ang sagot sa isang health crisis? Our people are already suffering, and statements like that do not inspire confidence in our local leaders,” she said.
“I urge the Quezon City government to consider replacing Mr. Ludovica with someone who can actually help save, not harm, local residents,” added Hontiveros.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said she is giving Ludovica a second chance after he apologized for posting the “shoot-to-kill” threat on his Facebook account.
Hontiveros said local government officials should act in accordance with the law and their mandate as public servants as they deal with their constituents “who are already badly affected by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.”
“Paalala lang po, virus ang kalaban natin, hindi taumbayan (Just a reminder, the virus is our enemy here, not the people),” she added.
“Punitive and militarized responses to a public health pandemic will serve no purpose but to further punish those who are already suffering,” she said.