By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) said it has not received any complaint regarding the “shame walk” incident in Silay City earlier this month.
NOCPPO spokesperson, Police Lt. Abegael Donasco, said aside from not receiving any complaints from the individuals involved in the incident, they have also not received the findings of the investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
When asked if the NOCPPO’s leadership had issued any memos to police chiefs in order to not repeat the incident, Donasco said there are no such memos issued either for them or for the Silay City Police Station.
However, Donasco said the Silay City police provided an explanation wherein they are pointing out they were just trying to impose physical distancing protocols.
“They pointed out that they do not have enough vehicles to transport all the violators they have apprehended and they will violate health protocols if they had all the violators crammed into the police vehicles,” she said.
Donasco said the issue had already been escalated to the Philippine National Police headquarters for review.
Earlier this month, the CHR condemned the Silay City police for parading health protocol violators.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said addressing the current pandemic must always be guided by human rights principles, and pointed out the current health crisis is a human rights issue, not a mere law enforcement matter.
The CHR described the incident as “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” noting that the punishment imposed was prohibited under Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) and barred by an international convention against torture signed by the Philippines.
The commission tasked its office in Western Visayas to spearhead an investigation.
While the CHR is one with the government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dabuco reminded authorities to remain guided by human rights principles.
De Guia, meanwhile, urged law enforcement officers to coordinate with public health experts on how to better explain and ensure compliance to health safety protocols./DGB, WDJ