Senator Risa Hontiveros today sought a full Senate investigation on cases of abuse and illegal acts by local government officials in implementing community quarantine protocols, after a Quezon City official threatened to kill people for violating quarantine rules.
Hontiveros filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 489, which urged the Senate Committee on Local Government to probe the controversy involving Quezon City Task Force Disiplina head Ranulfo “Rannie” Ludovica, as well as other documented cases of abuse, violence and illegal acts by local officials during enforcement of quarantine rules meant to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 3, 2020, Ludovica made a now-deleted social media post in which he said, “Mula bukas, shoot to kill na ang lalabag sa modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ)” (Starting tomorrow, we will shoot to kill everyone who will violate the MECQ). Hontiveros, a Quezon City resident, said Ludovica’s threats were not only disturbing, but also counter-productive and illegal.
“Bakit pagpatay ang sagot sa isang health crisis? Our people are already suffering, and statements like that do not inspire confidence in our local leaders. I urge the Quezon City government to consider replacing Mr. Ludovica with someone who can actually help save, not harm, local residents,” she said.
In her resolution, Hontiveros said that this is not the first time that Task Force Displina, headed by Ludovica, became the subject of controversy, pointing to the brutal mauling and detention of a fish vendor by members of the task force last April for failing to wear a mask.
“Hindi ito ang unang beses na may ganitong pang-aabuso at karahasan mula sa ilang local government officials habang nagpapatupad ng quarantine rules. In Metro Manila and other areas where community quarantine have been imposed, there have been too many cases of human rights abuse and other illegal acts which we need to stop,” she said.
Reported cases of abuse by local officials during the pandemic, the senator noted, include locking violators in dog cages, keeping them under the intense heat of the sun, or subjecting them to acts of torture and sexual violence such as by forcing them to kiss one another.
Hontiveros said that these actions grossly violate laws like the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713), as well as the prohibition against cruel and inhuman punishment under the 1987 Constitution itself.
The senator then urged local government officials to act in accordance with the law and their mandate as public servants as they deal with their constituents “who are already badly affected by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.”
“Paalala lang po, virus ang kalaban natin, hindi taumbayan. Punitive and militarized responses to a public health pandemic will serve no purpose but to further punish the already suffering,” she said.