Reports of harassment of women at checkpoints have reached the PNP

March 26, 2020 - 5:59 PM
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Checkpoint in Manila
Motorists pass through a disinfection gate installed at a checkpoint along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 midnight as a continued effort by the local government to ward off the spread of the COVID-19. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

Some members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will face investigation for reported abuses while they are securing certain areas during the enhanced community quarantine period.

Actress Bela Padilla called the attention of the PNP after a story of a female Twitter user supposedly harassed by a military personnel in a checkpoint reached her.

The 28-year-old actress tagged the official Twitter account of the PNP and urged them to make women “feel safe” in the streets and public spaces amid the presence of the military.

Bela Padilla
Bela Padilla in this photo uploaded to her official Instagram account on Feb. 19, 2019. (Photo from Bela Padilla via Instagram)

“This is not right,” Padilla added as she retweeted the original post of online user and complainant @_erlamaee which has now been removed to protect the latter’s pertinent details.

The PNP, mandated to ensure public safety in communities, responded through Twitter and asked the social media user to send them details of the incident so that they could file the report to the nearest police station in her area.

It also called the attention of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the platform, who eventually requested the complainant to make them aware of the incident’s details as well.

The complainant reposted her harassment account in a separate tweet, this time, covering her personal details.

“Reposting to cover my deets. Dumaan ako ng checkpoint para bumili ng gamot ng nanay ko, so binigay ko lisensya + quarantine pass ko, pagkabalik sa akin nung sundalo, may pasalubong daw na laman,” the complainant shared.

The military personnel, she discovered, had given her his number inserted in her driver’s license which also contained her quarantine pass.

The incident happened in the same month in which women are supposed to be celebrated and honored — the National Women’s Month.

“Lumabas ulit ako. Pinapatanggal naman ngayon ‘yung helmet saka face mask ko. Umayaw ako kasi tumatagal, ang init ng araw. Sinabihan ako, ‘O bakit? Pulis ako!'” user@_erlamaee added.

“Pwede ba sila ipalipat ng pwesto? ‘Wag sa tapat ng gate ng subdivision namin? Nakakabastos sobra. ‘Di ko kaya,” she continued.

When her tweet went viral, similar stories of alleged harassment also surfaced on social media.

Another Twitter user, @Tapolpolidgaf, also reshared her post and claimed that a similar incident happened to his girlfriend in January.

He narrated that his girlfriend took an Angkas ride to his house but they were stopped by a police officer at a checkpoint in Makati.

“Dapat ‘yung lisensya lang ng rider ang titingnan nilang info, ang ginawa pa ng mga pulis pina-tanggal ‘yung mask ng girlfriend ko at tinanong kung saan daw siya pupunta and sinabi niya ‘yung lugar namin at tinanong pa niya kung taga dun ba daw gf ko,” user @Tapolpolidgaf wrote.

The online user added that his girlfriend and the rider encountered another checkpoint where a police officer rudely asked the rider to give him her name and number.

The rider told him that he could not divulge the passenger’s personal information to observe company policy. But the cop threatened to confiscate his driver’s license and issue him a ticket should he refuse to give her number.

Another Twitter user, who appeared to be @Tapolpolidgaf’s girlfriend, shared that the rider gave her number to the police but eventually apologized as he was being threatened.

“Pagkadating ko kela Paul may tawag (nang) tawag na unknown number,” she said as she retweeted @Tapolpolidgaf’s post.

“Imagine, pulis ka tapos mang-harass ka ng babae sa gabi tapos tatakutin mo ‘yung Angkas rider na ibigay information ng customer nila ng walang dahilan? Mas bastos pa sila kesa sa mga tambay na nadadaanan ko,” the online user continued.

Under Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, it is illegal to force anyone to disclose their personal details such as the “name, contact and social media details or destination.”

It is also prohibited for someone to make any kind of advance—whether physical or verbal—that is deemed “unwanted” and has “threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety.”

Violators of such offense can be penalized for up to P10,000 and be imprisoned for up to 30 days.

Increased presence of uniformed personnel

When Metro Manila was initially placed under community quarantine because of the threat of COVID-19, multiple checkpoints were established to screen people leaving and entering some areas.

Personnel of AFP and PNP were deployed in several checkpoints in a  bid to maintain order and regulate public movements.

When it was initially implemented, some of the online community shared their fears and apprehension over the potential of public arrests and detention but the Commission on Human Rights said violators of the guidelines cannot be automatically arrested.

On Thursday morning, a reporter from DZMM Teleradyo shared a video of a police officer in Quiapo, Manila cursing at and slapping a resident with a stick for leaving home quarantine despite presenting a quarantine pass.

Brigadier General Ronaldo Miranda, district director of the Manila Police Department, said that he will have the incident investigated.

“Paiimbestigahan ko ito. Hindi dapat natin daanin sa init ng ulo ang pagpapatupad ng batas,” DZMM quoted the MPD chief as saying.