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Philippine Police Threaten to Cane Covid-19 Rule Violators

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Philippine Police Threaten to Cane Covid-19 Rule Violators

Philippine police have threatened to cane people who violate social-distancing protocols as the country fights the spread of covid-19 coronavirus during the festive season.

The Philippines celebrates one of the world’s longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centres despite the pandemic.

Police General Cesar Binag, commander of the coronavirus task force, told a news conference that police and soldiers would patrol in public areas in the capital Manila, the hotspot of Covid-19 cases, carrying 1m-long rattan sticks to measure the distance between people.

“It can be used to cane the hardheaded,” Gen Binag said, adding that the “social-distancing patrols” would focus on high-traffic areas such as transport hubs and public markets.

The plan will likely raise eyebrows with human rights advocates, who have criticized the government’s militaristic approach to the pandemic.

The authorities have apprehended, warned and penalized around 700,000 people since March for violating measures such as ignoring physical distancing and not wearing masks, police data shows.

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed one of the world’s strictest and longest coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March, grinding the economy to a halt. Restrictions were partially removed in June to allow more businesses to reopen

For the holidays, the government banned Christmas parties, family reunions and carol singing outside homes, while an earlier plan to allow minors to visit shopping malls was scrapped.

Philippines Parents Pimping their Children

Philippine Police Threaten to Cane Covid-19 Rule Violators

Meanwhile, child prostitution is surging this year in the Philippines, where parents have lost jobs during strict anti-pandemic shutdowns and allowed their children to work the sex trade. Often through online connections, activists and officials say.

Officials in the Philippines believe COVID-19 is fueling an increase in online sexual exploitation of children, the government’s Commission on Human Rights said in September. UNICEF had already described the Philippines four years ago as “the global epicenter of the live-stream sexual abuse trade.”

International advocacy group End Child Prostitution and Trafficking estimates a 264% increase in online sexual abuse and exploitation of children during the pandemic, the domestic news website Manila Bulletin reports.

“The increasing cases of children in prostitution is alarming,” said Maria Teresa Dela Rosa, president of the National Association of Social Work Education advocacy group in the southern city Davao.

“Parents, out of poverty, are pimping their children, even using the online platforms,” she said.

Stay-home orders enforced at the neighborhood level since April have made it tough for adults to keep or find jobs. The Philippine jobless rate was 10% in July, up from 5.4% a year earlier.

The Philippines has had more than 436,000 covid-19 infections and around 8,500 deaths. It also has the second-highest Covid-19 cases and casualties in South-east Asia, next to Indonesia.

The Philippines has a population of 108 million.

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