Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday reminded the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that the safety and welfare of the public, including cops, are not compromised in police operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For some reason, the police have become overzealous in enforcing public health directions to the point that they have put to risk the health of people, and violated basic rights," Binay said in a statement.
The senator claimed that "basic health and institutional protocols" have been violated in the "heavy-handed" arrest of 100 individuals in Makati on Sunday, the warrantless arrest of jeepney drivers in Caloocan, and participants of the Pride March in Manila.
"The PNP should be aware of its role in public health emergencies. Neither the COVID situation nor the expired Bayanihan Act gives the police a free pass for frantic policing practices," Binay said.
"Actually, they can just expressly issue a reprimand, warning, or caution—pero nakikita ng taumbayan yung blatant disregard of civil rights, at paglabag mismo sa health protocols," she added.
Last month, two out of the six jeepney drivers nabbed and jailed for allegedly violating city ordinance on social distancing during a rally tested positive for COVID-19 after posting bail.
Binay said clear protocols must be set by the PNP leadership to avoid possible transmission of the virus in their operations.
"Dapat tingnan ng PNP kung paano makakaiwas sa COVID ang mga tauhan nila maging 'yung mga nakakaharap nila," she said.
On Tuesday, National Capital Region Police Office chief Police Major General Debold Sinas said he advised chiefs of police to identify spacious spaces where arrests involving huge numbers of offenders can be processed.
Sinas said this is to ensure that social distancing will be observed during law enforcement operations. —LDF, GMA News