Philippines: Curfew Violator Shot Dead in Manila

Basilio Sepe and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila
2021-08-09
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Philippines: Curfew Violator Shot Dead in Manila A police officer armed with an assault rifle directs traffic in Manila as the Philippine capital goes on a hard lockdown, Aug. 6, 2021.
Basilio Sepe/BenarNews

Philippine police arrested a village watchman who allegedly shot and killed a man he said was causing a disturbance during a COVID-19 lockdown in the nation’s capital over the weekend, authorities said Monday. 

The shooting occurred on Saturday, the second day of a two-week hard lockdown or “enhanced community quarantine” in Metropolitan Manila and nearby areas aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus’s highly contagious Delta variant. 

Police said the victim, Eduardo Geñoga, 55, was carrying a toy gun and died after being allegedly shot by Cesar Panlaqui, a civilian employee of Manila’s Tondo district.

A Manila Police District (MPD) statement identified Geñoga as a “scavenger” who was attacked “for (a) still unknown reason.” 

“Even at times of pandemic, when a lot of people are seemingly depressed [about] what is happening around us, [an] individual chose to take a life, unmindful of what the mental condition is,” Manila police said. 

Panlaqui said the incident occurred while the victim was “allegedly slamming doors and gates in Tayuman Street during curfew hours,” according to police.

Authorities reported that they recovered an unlicensed revolver from Panlaqui.

MPD spokesman Capt. Philipp Ines said Panlaqui was charged because he used his “strength to kill the victim, who was only armed with wooden sticks and improvised toy guns,” according to local media.

The Interior and Local Government department, which is responsible for public safety, and the independent Commission on Human Rights announced plans to investigate the shooting.

“We are already investigating this. Secretary Eduardo Año already directed the Philippine National Police to determine the root cause of this incident,” Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told reporters. 

“The department will not tolerate such possible abuse,” he said. 

The Commission on Human Rights questioned the use of force in light of the pandemic.

“It is condemnable and deeply concerning that a quarantine violator died again in the implementation of quarantine protocols, which is reminiscent of deaths of violators in last year’s ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] implementation,” commission spokeswoman Jacqueline Ann de Guia told BenarNews. 

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte told police to shoot anyone causing a commotion after 20 people protesting the restriction were arrested.

In April 2020, an ex-soldier was shot and killed by police while attempting to cross a coronavirus checkpoint in Metro Manila. Authorities said the man disobeyed a police order and pulled a handgun before being shot.

In addition, Human Rights Watch reported that police killed 155 people from April to July 2020 – compared with 103 between December 2019 and March 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

De Guia did note that in cases of aggression, police or anyone in authority is empowered to use proportionate force to suppress the threat, but such action would not have a positive effect on the pandemic.

“Employing force will not eliminate the virus, but may instead further imperil and harm lives, which the quarantine rules is supposed to protect,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the rights group Karapatan, blamed Duterte for encouraging police and law enforcers to carry out violence. She said the killing of Geñoga and others linked to pandemic lockdowns reflect the propensity to use firearms.  

“Why does a village official bear arms, especially in discharging duties,” she asked. “Why is such force used disproportionately against someone who committed a very minor offense?” 

“This is an incident that needs to be seriously looked at as an indication of a high level of impunity amid a pandemic,” she said.

Lockdown

On Friday, authorities instituted the lockdown amid a spike in coronavirus cases while warning that the Delta strain was spreading across Metro Manila.

The lockdown covers about 14 million people who live in the national capital region, as well as residents of four outlying suburban provinces. It allows only essential business and sectors such as hospitals and supermarkets to remain fully operational. 

On Monday, the health department reported 8,900 new infections along with six deaths – one day after the nation recorded 287. The new figures bring the totals to more than 1.6 million infections and more than 29,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Since the implementation, more than 20,000 violators have been arrested, according to national police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. 

“Once again, we request the discipline and cooperation of every citizen so that our current situation will not worsen,” he said.

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