‘Use rattan sticks to enforce physical distancing, not to hit people’, Roque tells PNP

Published December 7, 2020, 5:11 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang is opposed to the planned use of a rattan stick by policemen to hit persons who would supposedly refuse to follow health measures such as physical distancing.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, “yantok” or rattan stick may be used to measure safe distance between people but not as a weapon to hit them.

Roque agreed with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who posed objection to the law enforcers’ reported threat to use the stick to enforce health protocols against the coronavirus.

“Tingin ko po tama is Secretary Locsin dito, hindi po pupuwedeng gamitin iyan na pang-hit or pamalo dahil hindi naman po iyan pinapayagan sa ating batas at sa regulasyon ng PNP (Philippine National Police) (I think Secretary Locsin is right. It cannot be used to hit a person because that is not allowed under the law and PNP regulation),” he said during a televised press briefing. 

“Pupuwede pa po siguro to measure social distancing, to make sure one meter, pero hindi po iyan para pampalo ng mga taumbayan (It may be used to measure social distancing, to make sue one matter, but not to hit people),” he added.

Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield chief Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag recently disclosed that law enforcers would use rattan sticks to enforce the one-meter distancing rule in public. Binag, speaking at the Laging Handa public briefing last Friday, said the stick could also be used to whip stubborn persons who flout the rule on physical distancing.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR)has cautioned against the unnecessary use of yank against violators of health protocols. Human rights and dignity must be respected even as the government enforces such safety measures, according to the commission.

Binag later clarified that the police will only use the stick as a self-defense against unruly violators of health protocols.