No complaints from Silay face masks violators: CHR

Silay PNP photo

The Commission on Human Rights in Negros Occidental has not received any complaint from the 39 face mask violators who were made to march with their arms outstretched from the Silay police station to the plaza, Romeo Baldevarona, CHR Negros head, said today, February 10.

Baldevarona said Maj. Rollie Pondevilla, Silay police chief, informed him that there was no malice in their asking the 39 to march with their arms outstretched, in fact, they thanked the police for not being made to pay the P1,000 fine for their failure to wear face masks.

We were tasked to investigate the matter for any human rights violation, Baldevarona said, but added that from what they have heard so far it does seem like there will be any complaints from the 39.

Commission on Human Rights spokesperson, Jacqueline Ann de Guia, said Saturday that the CHR will look into the Silay police video posted on social media on Friday, February 5, showing a group apprehended for allegedly violating the city ordinance mandating the wearing of face masks.

“We continuously remind law enforcers to adhere to human rights-based policing, including respect for every person’s dignity. Parading alleged quarantine violators on the streets may amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment penalized by Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) and barred by Convention Against Torture signed by the Philippines,” she said.

Mayor Mark Golez came to the defense of the Silay police Sunday, pointing out that the city government has an ordinance that requires those who fail to wear masks to pay P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 for firsts, second and third offenses, respectively.

However, since most of the offenders cannot pay the fine they are instead made to march from the police station to the city plaza covered court with their hands outstretched to also remind them of the need for social distancing, Golez said.

When they reach the Silay City covered court they are made to stand before a coffin and are lectured on what could happen to them if they get COVID-19, he said. They are also made to pledge that they will observe health protocols to keep everyone safe, Golez added.

They are then made to pray, given face masks, and sent home, he said.

Golez said the violators are not harmed, their rights are not violated, they are just being made to understand why they need to wear faces mask and observe health protocols.*

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