CHR prods swift probe on death of 12-year-old boy chased by ‘tanods’

Published April 21, 2021, 3:14 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called for “expedient action” from government authorities on the “devastating” death of a 12-year-old boy who was chased by barangay tanods (village watchmen) for violating quarantine protocols.

(Screengrab from CCTV Footage from Pasay PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Screengrab from CCTV Footage from Pasay PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

A belated police report stated that John Dave Pepito collapsed and died after the chase last April 14 in Barangay 179, Pasay City.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that the death of Pepito was “deeply concerning and devastating” since it happened because authorities were implementing quarantine guidelines which were supposed to protect children in the first place.

“Amid the compounding difficulties that impact many vulnerable sectors, CHR reiterates the need for prudence and compassion in enforcing quarantine guidelines. The ultimate goal is to save more lives, not put human rights, including the right to life, in peril,” De Guia, a lawyer, stressed.

“Children who commit quarantine infraction must be handled with utmost consideration to their welfare and rights. The quarantine policy is in place to protect the minors and the community, not to harm them,” she said.

She pointed out that minors who are guilty of violating quarantine rules must be turned over to their parents, guardians, or a social worker so they are given proper interventions, guidance, and advice.

In fact, she said, this turnover is in line with the memorandum circular issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Council on the Welfare of Children (CWC) entitled “Reiteration of Protocols on Reaching out to Children, including those in Street Situations, in need of Special Protection, Children at Risk, and Children in Conflict with the Law During the Enhanced Community Quarantine.”

For its part, the CHR Investigation Office is also conducting a parallel and independent probe on the incident.