UN calls out Duterte administration for ‘highly militarized’ response to lockdown violators- Source: MSN NEWS
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called out the Philippines for implementing a “highly militarized response” towards those who have violated its COVID-19 lockdown.
The UN named the Philippines, along with South Africa, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, and China, among the nations that have allegedly used the health crisis “as a pretext for repressive measures.”
In a statement released on its website on Monday, UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that at least 120,000 Filipinos have been arrested for violating the rules of the lockdown that has been placed over Luzon and other high-risk areas in the country.
She said that the Philippines and the other countries should not be “quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power” while implementing their quarantines.
“We’ve received reports of disproportionate use of force by security officers, particularly in poor and informal settlements,” she said.
“Shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response…[I]n some cases, people are dying because of the inappropriate application of measures that have been supposedly put in place to save them,” the OHCHR official said.
In Quezon City alone, village officials were caught on video hitting a fish vendor with a rattan stick because the victim was allegedly not wearing a face mask. Prior to that, a cop shot dead a mentally-ill army veteran last week for allegedly attempting to reach for a gun when he was caught breaking quarantine rules.
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte warned of a martial-law like takeover of the country should Filipinos continue to break quarantine.
Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo said in a speech yesterday that authorities should remember that they are fighting COVID-19 and not ordinary citizens.
“To our uniformed personnel: let us be calm in reminding people to follow rules of social distancing. Our enemy is the virus and not our fellow Filipinos. Let us exercise humanity in our enforcement of any law or duty,” Robredo said in Filipino.
“I know this is a great sacrifice for many, but let’s remember: life always hangs in the balance. The need to stop the spread of the disease is greater, but life should always be more important,” she added.