Drilon assails Negros police for forcing safety protocol violators join ‘zombie’ parade

Published February 8, 2021, 2:21 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday slammed the police in Silay City, Negros Occidental for making residents who were caught violating COVID-19 protocols join a zombie parade.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon said decried the policemen’s action, pointing out that they humiliated the violators, instead of treating them with “dignity and respect.”

“What they did was totally unnecessary. It did not achieve anything but only fueled the people’s growing distrust of our police authority. Police should treat all persons with dignity and respect,” Drilon said in a statement.

“Too much TV.  I urge our police to do away with ‘theatrics.’ If they believe a violation is committed, then file charges in accordance with our existing laws,” the minority leader added.

Drilon said this is the reason why he pushed for the repeal of a provision in the Bayanihan to Heal as One or Bayanihan 1, that criminalized violations of COVID-19 protocols, including the non-wearing of face masks. This exact provision has been removed under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

Drilon said the incident in Silay is only one of the many instances of cops abusing their authority during this pandemic.

“Let me warn the police: the pandemic does not give you the authority to violate the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights and Human Rights,” he said.

“This is the exact police mentality that we want to avoid when we pushed for the repeal of Section 6 of Bayanihan 1 that criminalized violations of COVID-19 protocols. We have seen how law enforcers abused this provision,” Drilon lamented.

While some localities may be imposing strict COVID-19 health protocols, the senator said the police should be more compassionate in these trying times.

“These are extraordinary times where laws should be enforced with compassion and leniency. The alleged violators are mostly the poor who are driven by the hunger, given high inflation and the lack of jobs,” he pointed out.

“While breaking the curfew may be a punishable offense, police must still respect the rights and dignity of those apprehended,” he stressed.

Drilon said there must be no instance that police should treat the poor and violators as less than human.

“If they see poor residents not wearing masks or not observing social distancing, warn them or file charges against them,” he said.

“These are extraordinary times, laws should be enforced with compassion and leniency,” he reiterated.