CHR issues reminder to police about surveillance

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reminded that surveillance must be subject to the standards of "necessity, legitimacy, and proportionality" amid the plan of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to scan social media for quarantine violators.

In a statement on Sunday, CHR spokersperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia highlighted that respect and protection of human rights must continue to prevail even under a state of national health emergency.

"While we recognize that the right to privacy is not absolute, any interference or surveillance must be subject to the standards of necessity, legitimacy, and proportionality," de Guia said.

"Otherwise, violation of these standards, especially if not founded on legal measures, may lead to offenses against the people’s rights. This is a scenario that we wish to avoid noting that we look upon the police as law enforcers and not as the first ones to breach laws," she added.

De Guia however expressed the Commission's appreciation to the contribution of the country's security sector in handling the pandemic.

"It is our hope too that government would also step up its medical and health response to the pandemic as the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) should be primarily seen as a health crisis and not as a police matter," she pointed out.

"At this point in the pandemic, we call on the government to focus on the crucial steps that need to be done so that we can all finally rise above this crisis," she added.