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Palace: Rights to be respected amid stricter measures vs. COVID-19

Malacañang on Sunday assured the people that the Duterte administration respects human rights as it implements measures against the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the remark amid reports of alleged human rights violations by local government units (LGUs) against those who violate rules and health protocols under the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

In a statement, Roque said that while the Palace gives credit to the efforts of LGUs to make sure that the ECQ is properly implemented, it also recognizes the alleged human rights violations by local administrators involving violators of quarantine rules.

He admitted, however, that the executive is not fully aware of these supposed human rights violations and asked concerned entities to provide detailed information on these incidents for proper action.

"Under t current circumstances, the LGUs enforce the law as reasonably strict as possible for the full protection of our people," Roque said.

"While such protection measures spell the difference between life and death, they are implemented well within the rule of law, and are respectful of the human dignity and human rights of everyone," he added.

Roque also said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government which supervises LGUs and the Philippine National Police is committed to uphold human rights and will not allow them to be violated during the ECQ period.

"In all this, we cannot overstate the need for everyone to observe social distancing, curfew hours, and other protocols in these difficult times," he said.

"As necessary, please stay at home. Please do not violate any of the ECQ rules. This entails everyone’s cooperation. We need to fight this pandemic together," he added.

The Human Rights Watch earlier reminded Philippine law enforcers to respect the rights of persons being arrested for violating ECQ rules.

It cited the case of the Parañaque residents who had been left under the heat of the sun at midday for non-compliance to the 24-hour curfew being imposed by the local government.

The group also noted that some barangay officials of Sta. Cruz, Laguna allegedly locked up five youths inside a dog cage for violating curfew and verbal abuse.

The Philippine government should ensure that the human rights of residents held in custody for various violations during the COVID-19 situation would not be neglected, the Human Rights Watch said. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News