People confined in dog cages or punished to remain in full sun for hours are some of the punishments that Philippine authorities have imposed on those who violated quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Thursday. .
“Police and local officials must respect the rights of people arrested for violating the curfew and other public health regulations,” HRW Deputy Director for Asia Phil Robertson said in a statement.
Robertson noted that any form of abuse must be investigated immediately and that the responsible authorities must be held accountable and punished or prosecuted.
The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, imposed the closure and strict quarantine on the island of Luzón – the largest in the country where Manila is located – on March 16, and since then hundreds of people have been arrested by the police.
Local authorities in the city of Santa Cruz, Laguna province, south of Manila, admitted to having locked up five young men in a cage overnight, on March 20, cornered by stray dogs, for “having violated the curfew and verbally assaulting them. “
In Parañaque, within the Manila metropolitan area, authorities forced curfew violators to sit in the intense midday sun after their arrest, although they later justified that they had no other place to hold them.
In Bulacan province, north of Manila, an agent killed a man who allegedly skipped a checkpoint, although police say the man fired first while escaping.
HRW also warned that indiscriminate detention during quarantine will further overcrowd the country’s detention centers – the most densely populated in the world – fueling the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The Philippines has been in a state of emergency since yesterday, which means that people who violate quarantine and confinement can be detained “even if they do not resist police action,” which can lead to human rights abuses, according to several alerts. organizations.
Duterte obtained from Congress this week “special powers” for three months to deal with the pandemic and announced a national action plan led by the Army and the Police, a repressive turnaround according to some critics who point out that it must be the Health Department who stay ahead of the response to the epidemic.
The Philippines has confirmed 636 positive cases and 38 deaths from COVID-19, although only 0.008% of the population has undergone the diagnostic test, so many more undetected cases are suspected.