Drilon slams Visayas police for ‘zombie’ march

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    SENATE minority leader Franklin Drilon yesterday slammed the Silay City Police Station in Negros Occidental for making residents do a “zombie” march after they were caught violating health protocols.

    In a statement, Drilon said the punishment was uncalled for and could be considered a violation of human rights.

    “What they did is totally unnecessary. It did not achieve anything but only fueled the people’s growing distrust of our police authority. Police should treat all persons with dignity and respect,” Drilon said, adding: “The local police is publicity hungry and the incident only shows one of the many instances of police abuse, overreach and disrespect.”

    “Too much TV. I urge our police to do away with ‘theatrics’. If they believe a violation is committed, then file charges in accordance with our existing laws… Let me warn the police: the pandemic does not give you the authority to violate the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights and human rights,” he added.

    Drilon issued the statement after a video which went viral on the internet last Friday showed Silay City residents being ordered to walk in a straight line with their arms stretched forward, like they were zombies. The video since been deleted.

    Reports said the residents were caught for not wearing face masks while outside of their homes.

    Drilon said police abuse was one of the reasons why he pushed for the repeal of a provision in the Bayanihan 1 law that imposed criminal sanctions for violation of COVID-19 health protocols, including the non-wearing of face masks.

    The Bayanihan 2, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One, which Congress had extended until June 2021, does not contain criminal liabilities involving COVID-19 health protocol violations.

    “These are extraordinary times where laws should be enforced with compassion and leniency. The alleged violators are mostly the poor who are driven by the hunger, given high inflation, and the lack of jobs,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday ordered the PNP to arrest and prosecute people behind the forgery of results of RT-PCR tests.

    “The DILG directs the PNP to arrest and prosecute individuals who are forging their RT-PCR tests. This is a crime and is punishable under our law,” said DILG undersecretary and officer-in-charge Bernardo Florece Jr. – With Victor Reyes