Hontiveros rejects police, military operations vs health protocol violators

Published March 10, 2021, 11:06 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday rejected a proposal to deploy military and police personnel to arrest individuals who breach health protocols after the alarming surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros called out the ‘’militaristic approach’’ to the pandemic, saying it is ‘’a repeat of the mistakes of the past’’.

She said it would only delay the swift response needed to deal with the rise in cases which the World Health Organization (WHO) reported might require the country to return to a large scale lockdown like in July 2020 at the current rate of infection.

“Wag namang puro na lang lessons, pero wala namang learning. Ano ito, throwback sa 2020? (All lessons, no learning, What is this, throwback of 2020?),” Hontiveros said.

“Hindi ba tayo natututo na hindi gumagana o nakakatulong ang mass arrests? Magsisiksikan lang ang mga tao sa mga kulungan. Lalo lang magkakahawahan ((Haven’t we learned that mass arrests do not help? People in detention centers will easily get infected),” she said.

During the world’s longest lockdown, police arrested 76,000 individuals for breaching protocols between March 2020 to July 2020.

The cases did not go down and only overwhelmed health workers that they had to beg for a two-week circuit-breaker, the lady senator said.

“Kung magde-deploy man ng pulis, dapat sila pa nga ang namimigay ng face mask, face shield, o magpaalala sa physical distancing at paglilinis ng kamay. Hindi yung mandadakip na lang at aabusuhin ang kanilang kapangyarihan (If police were to be deployed, they should give out face masks, face shields, or remind people of the physical distancing rule. Don’t just arrest and abuse people’s rights),’’ she added.

Hontiveros emphasized deploying uniformed personnel was an ineffective and anti-poor strategy. She cited the case of the five youths arrested in Laguna at the start of the lockdown who were detained together in a singular dog cage.

“Ang mahihirap lang ang kaya nilang pagtripan (Is the poor the only ones to be taken for a ride?). Kailan pa nilagay ang mayayaman sa detention center o sa dog cage dahil sa mass gatherings o parties nila (When have they placed in cages the rich because of their mass gatherings or parties)? There is a way to enforce stricter health protocols humanely and non-violently. 2021 na. Let’s do this the right way,” she remarked.

“Mag-iisang taon na ang pandemya (The pandemic is almost into its full year). Ang dami nang naisakripisyo ng taumbayan. Gobyerno naman ang mag-adjust (Many were sacrificed. Government had to adjust) and respond to the spike because we care for the welfare of our people. Let’s not beat them when we’re already on the ground,” Hontiveros added.