COVID-19 Watch News

Human rights alliance reminds authorities not to infringe on civil liberties, human rights

“We remind the government that protecting the right to life and security should not infringe on other basic human rights and civil liberties.” 

This is the call of Human rights alliance KARAPATAN to the government authorities implementing the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The alliance noted that the poor — including the homeless, workers, the urban and rural poor communities — are the most vulnerable to different human rights violations like arrests and detention.

In their press release, Roneo Clamor, KARAPATAN deputy secretary-general said that they understand that serious and stringent measures are needed to mitigate the threats of COVID-19 in the country. However, Clamor said that containing the spread of the disease does not mean that the government has a free pass to infringe human rights and basic civil liberties.

“Fundamental rights should be at the crux of all responses to COVID-19. The government should prioritize the people’s right to health and veer away from a fascist approach in addressing this public health crisis,” said Clamor.

“We urge the government to refrain from making fascist pronouncements that will only goad State authorities to arrest and detain the vulnerable sectors like the urban poor and homeless, workers who are forced to earn for daily living, while awaiting government response to provide their basic needs like food and other essential supplies in their respective villages. A militaristic and anti-poor response that does not address the social and economic impacts of this enhanced community quarantine will only worsen the crisis we are currently facing,” added Clamor.

Displaced families, individuals arrested

KARAPATAN noted that poor communities and individuals have been heavily affected by the quarantine. According to a report from Kadamay – Metro Manila, several families in New Era compound in Pasay City were displaced after their homes were illegally demolished without prior notice.

Meanwhile, a Barangay Captain in Brgy. Gatid, Sta. Cruz, Laguna caged curfew violators in a mobile cage for dogs after allegedly resisting orders. A 69-year-old street dweller in Malate, Manila was also arrested for sleeping on the street past the curfew hours.

“Such inhumane treatment of individuals especially the most marginalized in society not only violated the social distancing measures currently being implemented against the COVID-19 pandemic…Local government officials who abuse their power should be held to account during this public health crisis. We remind local authorities to respect the human rights and due process should be accorded to individuals who may not be able to comply with the guidelines and curfew rules of the enhanced community quarantine,” slammed Clamor.

KARAPATAN is also calling the government to respond to the public health crisis through massive and free testing and reversing the privatization of health care and other ‘neoliberal’ economic policies “to ensure the State’s duty to provide quality public health and social services to all, especially the poor.”

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon in an enhanced community quarantine last Tuesday, March 16, 2020, to restrict the movement of the population in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The imposition of the community quarantine is set to expire on April 12, 2020. [P]

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