THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 has started its investigation on the alleged beating of a quarantine violator at the Carbon Police Station in Cebu City perpetrated by a police officer.
CHR 7 Director Arvin Odron, a lawyer, said his office initiated the inquiry based on the media reports.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella encouraged victims of the police harassment to come out and ask City Attorney Rey Gealon to investigate.
Labella said he will not tolerate any kind of abuses or harassment done by the police officers whose main job is to protect the citizenry.
However, Labella said his pronouncement does not mean he doubts the capability of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO). He said it would also be fair if other government offices would also investigate.
The incident, said Odron, does not fall under Republic Act (RA) 11053, or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, since the police officer’s action was not an initiation rite practiced by fraternities in secrecy as their way of welcoming new members.
The incident falls under RA 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, which prohibits degrading and inhumane punishment, Odron said.
The police officer, who is now facing an internal investigation by the CCPO, reportedly used a paddle in flogging a delivery truck helper in the legs thrice inside the Carbon Police Station on Feb. 8, 2021.
The officer apprehended the truck helper after he caught him not wearing a mask in the vicinity of Carbon Public Market.
The victim’s social media post about the incident went viral, drawing criticisms against police brutality.
Odron said there are two acts punishable under RA 9745—the act of torture and the act of ill-treatment, which covers cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment.
The CHR 7 investigators will locate the victim to get an official statement.
“Even if there is no witness, if we can secure pieces of evidence from the social media, we can use it as evidence. But it is better to secure a witness to testify,” said Odron in a mix of Cebuano and English.
As the CHR 7 observes due process, it will also get the statement of the police officer.
Last year, Odron said they received complaints from the quarantine protocol violators, mostly from Metro Cebu.
The violators complained about the punishment they received from the authorities such as performing push-ups, jogging and standing under the heat of the sun.
However, the complainants did not push through with their after they were released by apprehending authorities.
The CHR 7 released last year an advisory to all the local government units and law enforcement agencies in Central Visayas to refrain from giving corporal punishment to the quarantine violators and suggested community service as the mode of punishment instead.
Odron said corporal punishment was imposed at the time when law enforcers were confused on what penalties to imposed since there was no ordinance yet that defines the penalties of the quarantine violators.
“If there is no law that punishes an act, then there is no crime,” Odron said. (KFD, JJL)