MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights on Monday called for sanctions and disciplinary actions against law enforcers who arrested a 13-year-old boy from Malabon City for not wearing a face mask outside of his house amid the general community quarantine.
The minor was caught without a mask Friday night by village officials and police officers on his way home from his neighbor's house after he was ordered by his relatives to get garlic for what they were cooking.
Despite government guidelines that minors shouldn't be arrested or punished, authorities apprehended and penalized him, and took the boy's fingerprints and mugshot.
"It is concerning that this happened despite the prohibition on the arrests of minors as stated in the joint memorandum circular entitled '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)," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
"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."
The CHR noted allegations that police told the boy "he now has a profile picture for his Facebook account" with his mugshot.
"We welcome the remarks of Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield Commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar reminding the police force and barangay law enforcers to not penalize minors for quarantine violations," de Guia said.
"We also note the apology and actions done by the barangay chairman in acknowledgment of the harm done."
"However, proper sanction and/or disciplinary actions must still be pursued to prevent the same from happening again," said de Guia.
The CHR reminded law enforcers and barangay officials of their duties to protect children's rights.
"Any form of punishment that humiliates and degrades the dignity of minors is violative of this sworn obligation. Children are part that of the vulnerable sectors and should be protected during normal times, but more so during this period of crisis as they bear the brunt of the secondary effects and the measures taken to combat COVID-19," said de Guia.
The CHR said it will be conducting its own investigation on the incident.