A student and a worker were supposedly arrested and detained without a warrant over alleged quarantine violations last weekend, once again prompting criticisms against the local police.
Pampanga worker’s case
In a tweet last Saturday, activist Chad Booc claimed that a worker from Pampanga was arrested without a warrant and publicly shamed on social media on Friday.
The worker allegedly questioned a staff of the Department of Social Welfare Department why his social amelioration card was rejected, which then led to his arrest and detention.
Booc also shared side-by-side screenshots of the Facebook posts from the local police chief who arrested the worker and the latter’s complaint on the social media platform.
“He was arrested w/o warrant. When already in prison, he was filed with charges. His mugshot was then posted on police chief’s FB to publicly shame him,” the activist said.
Based on the screenshots, the worker was charged for supposed spread of fake news online, not wearing a face mask outside and resisting law enforcers implementing the quarantine.
The worker’s complaint, meanwhile, was merely questioning the DSWD staff’s reason for rejecting his social amelioration card. The staff, according to the story, did not provide him a proper response.
Under the Section 6 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, “individuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion” may be penalized.”
Booc later sought help from his followers to find legal assistance for the worker’s family who was told to post bail for the worker’s release.
PUP student’s case
On the same day, the student regent of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines also reported that one of their students was also arrested without a warrant for also alleged violation of the enhanced community quarantine protocol.
The PUP Student Regent reported that the student identified as Rexon Aumentado was suddenly apprehended by cops while on his way to the market.
“Contrary to PCP #8’s report, Aumentado is authorized to go out as he carries valid and legitimate home quarantine pass (HQP) verified by Barangay 587; apparently it was Barangay 587 who made a mistake issuing double-entry HQP,” the post read.
However, after the barangay officials issued an appeal and certification to the local police who arrested Aumentado, they still refused to release him.
He was charged of falsification of document, disobedience and resistance and other violations.
These accounts came after Retired Corporal Winston Ragos, who served in the Marawi siege in 2017 and had mental issues since then, was shot dead by a police officer in Quezon City last week.
The Philippine Army sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a probe into Ragos’ killing and bring him and his family justice.
He was buried with full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on April 26.
PNP abuses during quarantine
Following these alleged illegal arrests, the Philippine National Police was once again criticized. Online users slammed the police force for the alleged abuses of its members while implementing the guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine.
The directive, which now only covers Metro Manila and other high-risk areas in the Philippines, still maintained strict limited movement wherein only those with passes are allowed to move around the region.
All on-site social activities and mass transportation are still suspended.
However, merely airing complaints and concerns, and other minor lapses are not part of the violations provided by law.
Human rights organizations such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Watch have denounced the PNP’s approach in enforcing quarantine protocols.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia last Thursday reminded the public that to achieve proper enforcement of rules and continue to curb the COVID-19 transmissions is “through a humanitarian approach.”
HRW, meanwhile, cautioned the PNP that locking people up in confined spaces is counterproductive to the national government’s goal in dealing with the pandemic.
During a virtual press briefing last April 21, PNP Chief Archie Gamboa issued a threat to Filipinos who would continue to break the ECQ guidelines that they would be arrested in public without warning.
Gamboa clarified that they will still be subjected to proper inquest procedures once arrested.
This is a turnaround to the Department of Justice’s previous statement last March 14 when the travel restrictions only covered Metro Manila. The justice department then assured the public that warrantless arrests can only be made in case of physical assaults, slander and bribery.