CHR: Making ECQ violators pray, dance, exercise is ‘inhuman’

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - Reporter/CDN Digital | May 17,2020 - 05:30 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Law enforcers may arrest violators of quarantine rules but the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) has reminded them that imposing “punishments” such as making them do physical activities, dance or pray the rosary is not within the call of their authority.

CHR said law enforcers could not plainly impose penalties to those they arrested for alleged ECQ violation especially when these punishments were not stipulated in the ordinance or law in question.

“Kanang parosaryohon ka, is it included [as a penalty] in the ordinance? Kung nag-impose ka og imong kaugalingon nga penalty aside from what is provided in the ordinance, that is already a violation,” said CHR-7 chief investigator Leo Villarino.

(The praying of the rosary, is it included in the ordinance? When you impose your own penalty aside from what is provided in the ordinance, that is already a violation.)

“They (law enforcers) are just there to make the arrest, file the complaint and let the court decide on what penalty based on what is provided on the ordinance or law violated. But they cannot put what they think is the penalty,” Villarino told CDN Digital.

Since the start of the movement restrictions because of the coronavirus disease, several occasions have been reported where authorities invoked “unique” punishments for ECQ violators in their areas.

READ: Curfew violators in Danao City made to pray the rosary

In Danao City, northern Cebu last March, some curfew violators were made to kneel and pray the Holy Rosary before they were released.

While Roman Catholicism is the largest religious group in the country, the Philippine government is bound not to promote a specific religious order in line with one’s right to have a free choice of religious practice.

In Cebu City, some violators were made to dance the Sinulog while recently others were made to do physical activities.

WATCH: Dancing Session with ‘Rescued’ ECQ Violators

ECQ violators do physical activities Plaza Independencia (CDN Digital Photo/Gerard Francisco)

Villarino said deciding on the penalties of violators is not part of the authority of law enforcers.

“In fact, you cannot impose a penalty because the ordinance will call for a filing of a complaint pa, pasakaan kag kaso or pananglitan sa traffic, there is a provision for an administrative fine or community work. If that is not provided in the ordinance, you cannot impose a penalty nga ikaw ang nagbuot-buot,” Villarino said.

The CHR, in an earlier advisory, has already reminded law enforcers and other government agencies to maintain the observance of the rule of law when enforcing ECQ rules.

By making violators do physical activities, dance, or pray, Villarino said law enforcers had in effect become prosecutors and judges, designations with powers that were separate from their mandates.

“Kung duna may naka-violate, file charges against them, let them answer before the court but dili mahimo nga sila na lay magbuot kung what penalty will come to their mind,” Villarino said.

(But if there is someone who violated the ECQ rules, then file charges against them. Let them answer before the court but they could not just impose a penalty that will come to their mind.)

“The whole problem is ang atong law enforcers, sila nay nagbuot-buot og unsay penalty nga ilang mahunahunaan. That becomes the rule of men, not the rule of law. That’s not provided under the law nga ang penalty is parosaryohon ka, pa-joggingon ka, ibuwad ka sa init. That is already an inhuman treatment,” he added.

(The whole problem is that our law enforcers are the ones who take it on themselves to impose whatever penalty they can think of. That becomes the rule of men, not the rule of law. That’s not provided under the law where the penalty for the violators is to let them pray the rosary, to let them job, to let them stand under the heat of the sun. That is already an inhuman treatment.)/dbs

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