Press Release
February 8, 2021

'Too much TV,' he says of police action
Drilon hits Negros police for making Covid-19 health protocol violators walk like 'zombies'

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon slammed the local police in Silay, Negros Occidental for making residents who were caught violating health protocols do a "zombie" parade.

"What they did is totally unnecessary. It did not achieve anything but only fueled the people's growing distrust of our police authority. Police should treat all persons with dignity and respect," Drilon said in a statement on Monday.

"Too much TV. I urge our police to do away with 'theatrics'. If they believe a violation is committed, then file charges in accordance with our existing laws," he added.

Drilon said the incident in Silay is only one of the many instances of police abuse, overreach and disrespect that transpired during the pandemic.

"Let me warn the police: the pandemic does not give you the authority to violate the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights and human rights," he said.

Drilon said that this is the main reason why he pushed for the repeal of a provision in the Bayanihan to Heal as One or Bayanihan 1 that punished criminally violations of Covid-19 health protocols, including non-wearing of face masks.

"This is the exact police mentality that we want to avoid when we pushed for the repeal of Section 6 of Bayanihan 1 that criminalized violations of Covid-19 health protocols. We have seen how law enforcers abused this provision," Drilon said.

The new Bayanihan 2, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One, which Congress extended until December of 2021, removed criminal liabilities involving Covid-19 health protocol violations.

"These are extraordinary times where laws should be enforced with compassion and leniency. The alleged violators are mostly the poor who are driven by the hunger, given high inflation, and the lack of jobs," he lamented.

Drilon said that there may be an ordinance imposing curfew in localities or strict Covid-19 health protocols but he appealed to the police to be more compassionate in these trying times.

"While breaking the curfew may be a punishable offense, police must still respect the rights and dignity of those apprehended," Drilon said.

"If they see poor residents not wearing masks or not observing social distancing, warn them or file charges against them. But in no instance that police should treat the poor and violators as less than human," he added.

"These are extraordinary times, laws should be enforced with compassion and leniency," he reiterated.

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