The United Nations (UN) raised concern over Duterte’s “highly militarized” response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in mounting cases of human rights violations. On April 30, it stated that “a toxic lockdown culture against the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted drastically on society’s most vulnerable members.”
The statement was issued a week after UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on governments not to use the pandemic as a pretext for repressive measures, and to recognize that the threat is the virus and not people.
UN Director of Field Operations Georgette Gagnon noted that the Philippines has the highest number of lockdown arrests with over 120,000 apprehended for alleged “curfew violations.”
The UN stressed, “shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response.” It clarified that “the right to life, the prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained” continue to apply even amid the lockdown.
Earlier, in Quezon City, a policeman gunned down retired Army corporal Winston Ragos who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for allegedly violating quarantine protocols on April 21. Yesterday, a 13-year-old boy sustained abrasions on his back after being beaten by a policeman with a rattan stick. A day earlier, lockdown enforcers were caught on camera beating up and dragging a fish vendor whom they arrested afterwards. In Agusan del Norte, a 63-year-old man who complained about government food packs was shot dead by a policeman at a checkpoint on April 5.