The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it will investigate the arrest and humiliation of a 13-year old by the Philippine National Police in Malabon City last Saturday, September 26.
The CHR reported that the minor was arrested for not wearing a mask when he crossed the street to their house from a neighbor’s place.
The agency said that after taking the boy’s mugshot at the police station, officers allegedly told the minor that “he now has a profile picture for his Facebook account.”
The CHR said the remark caused distress to the boy.
“It is concerning that this happened despite the prohibition on the arrests of minors,” CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement Monday, September 28.
While noting that Joint Task Force Covid-19 Shield Commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar reminded police forces and barangay law enforcers to not penalize minors for quarantine violations, the CHR said proper sanction and disciplinary actions must still be pursued to prevent a similar incident.
The CHR said the barangay chairperson also apologized for the incident.
De Guia reminded the police of the joint memorandum circular “Reiteration of Protocols on Reaching out to Children, including those in Street Situations, in need of Special Protection, Children at Risk, and Children in Conflict with the Law During the Enhanced Community Quarantine” issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Council on the Welfare of Children (CWC) in dealing with such cases.
“Minors who are guilty of violating quarantine rules must be turned over to their parents, guardians, and/or a social worker so that proper interventions, guidance, and/or advice are given to them,” de Guia said.
“We remind that law enforcers and barangay leaders are duty-bound to protect the rights of children. Any form of punishment that humiliates and degrades the dignity of minors is violative of this sworn obligation,” she added.
The CHR said children should be protected more so during the coronavirus pandemic, “as they bear the brunt of the secondary effects and the measures taken to combat Covid-19.”
“Government officials and its officers should be the first ones to protect the welfare of children, not violate them,” de Guia said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)