As Metro Manila and several other areas in the country transitioned back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) Tuesday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reminded the government to respect basic human rights even as it tries to deal with the continued
onslaught of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The CHR issued the reminder noting several reports of violators being meted harsh and inhumane punishment by authorities since the community quarantine was first implemented on March 17. While the CHR recognizes the value of imposing strict health guidelines and protocols at this time, CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia stressed it is also important for authorities to respect every individual’s rights.

“We must treat the pandemic as a public health crisis which considers the human rights dimensions of the situation, rather than approaching
our present circumstances from a peace and order lens,” she said. “Such reminders include government officials and representatives being
circumspect in both their words and deeds.” She added Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, mandates local officials to commit “to the democratic way of life and values, as well as the duty to uphold the Constitution, which puts premium on social justice and human rights, at all times.” Given the plight of the people because of the health crisis and economic downturn, de Guia said the government and its officials should be more compassionate towards their constituents – particularly the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized.

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