Lockdown enforcers in Quezon City were caught on camera flogging an allegedly mentally-challenged man with a rattan stick and dragging him to the ground after he resisted arrest for violating quarantine measures.
According to Ivan Mayrina's Tuesday report on 24 Oras, the incident happened on Monday noon on Panay Avenue, Barangay South Triangle, and involved a man, known among residents as "Long Hair," who has been selling fish on the streets for a living ever since Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine.
Through a CCTV footage, enforcer Joel Laurel of QC's Task Force Disiplina was seen approaching the "Long Hair" to reprimand him for not wearing a face mask while in public. However, the victim turned his back on the enforcer and avoided him.
Laurel then followed and tried to grab the victim where the victim then swatted Laurel's hand. This prompted Laurel to hit the victim with a yantok or rattan stick.
Another enforcer could be seen on the video pushing the victim from behind several times.
The report said Laurel with his rattan stick kept hitting the man, who had already fallen to the ground and was already crying in pain as he held on to a steel railing.
This prompted Laurel to hit the victim once more, this time on his arm, while a third enforcer tried dragging the victim away. The enforcers eventually carried the victim to their mobile.
In a surveillance video of the barangay, the victim, prior to the hitting incident, could be seen illegally selling fish on the sidewalk with no face mask on, a violation of ECQ guidelines.
According to barangay traffic chief Ariel Morales, local authorities initially tried to reason with the victim to no avail.
"Pag-pinapaalis namin siya, sir, ang sinasagot lang sa amin, sabi sa amin 'bakit? Nag-titinda lang naman kami dito, ah?' Ginaganon kami, sir. 'Parang gusto niyo kayo lang mabuhay!," Morales said
Laurel said he had no choice but to use force on the man because he was uncooperative and being rude to them.
"Malaki, eh, so pumalag siya na alam ko papalag siya, aakma, hinampas ko sir sa lulod para lumuhod. Kung kayo po ang lumaki sa sitwasyon namin, papaano niyo kukunin ang isang tao na ayaw sumama na hindi mo kaya pakiusapan," Laurel said.
But residents and passersby who witnessed the incident slammed the enforcers' use of excessive force.
"Regardless sa kasalanan ng tao dapat hindi nila binugbog kasi sa mga nakapanood kahapon, ang sabi nila, sigaw sila ng sigaw na 'wag n'yo saktan'," one witness said.
She insisted that the actions of the enforcers were unjustified, especially on a man who was allegedly mentally-challenged.
"Ang rason nila, isasama nila kasi nga daw wala po'ng ano, face mask, 'tsaka wala atang quarantine pass. Ayaw kasing sumama ni kuya kasi ang pag-kakaalam nga namin si kuya may konti," she said.
"May konting diperensya sa ano. Kumbaga 'yung hindi natin siya ka-level sa pag-iisip," she added.
The woman recording the incident could be heard in the video saying: "You are abusing your power. Hindi n'yo dapat gulpihin ang nasita. Nandoon na po tayo pero pagtulungan n'yo na lang ho itali 'yung- itali n'yo ang paa saka ang kamay. Hindi n'yo po puwede bugbugin. Binugbog ninyo."
Despite public outrcy on the incident, Laurel's superior defended him and asked the public to refrain from hasty judgment.
"Drinug test namin, nag-positive siya sa drugs. So kaya pala ganoon siya ka nag-re-resist siya dahil mabibisto siya," action officer Rannie Ludovica said.
The victim is already undergoing inquest for complaints of resistance and disobedience to authority. He was not permitted to talk to the media as visitations at the Quezon City Police District Station 10 was not allowed.
Use of force not tolerated
Meanwhile, the Quezon City Government has released a statement saying that it will not tolerate the use of force amid the ECQ.
"Let it be known that the City Government does not condone any acts violative of human rights, regardless of reason or justification, especially when committed by an official or employee of the City Government or any of the City's barangays," the LGU said.
"A full-blown investigation will be undertaken, upon which those found to be liable will be sanctioned accordingly," it added. -Joahna Lei Casilao/MDM, GMA News