A police captain in the Philippines forced three LGBTQ+ people to perform a “sexy dance” in front of a minor and demanded that two of them kiss as part of a punishment for breaking lockdown orders imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The incident happened Sunday night in the village of Pandacaqui, north of the capital Manila on the main island of Luzon. The three were part of a larger group police rounded up for breaching an 8 p.m. curfew.
While the rest of the group was forced to lie on the street and do push-ups, Police Captain Christopher Bombing Punzalan paid special attention to the three LGBTQ+ members of the group, according to a report in Rappler.
Punzalan not only called out the three people by name using a loudspeaker, claiming they were all out looking for prostitutes, he demanded that two of them kiss each other if they wanted to go home, and then asked all three to perform a “sexy dance.”
All of this was captured on video and live streamed on Punzalan’s Facebook page.
Two of those involved, Jessica Mallari, 22, and Shanel Salazar, 22, told Rappler that they were simply out trying to buy biscuits for their grandmother at a local store “when the captain made us do a sexy dance in front of the boy.”
The video shows a 15-year-old boy, who had also breached the curfew, being forced to watch the incident.
“They made us copy moves from TikTok, but we couldn’t do it because they were laughing at us and we were ashamed,” Mallari said. “He said if we wanted to go home, we would have to kiss. When we didn’t do it, he told us we had to do 20 push-ups.”
The video was removed, and on Tuesday Punzalan apologized for his actions. However, VICE News was able to find copies of the video on Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday morning.
This Philippines, which has a population of 105 million people, has recorded 3,870 infections and 182 deaths due to coronavirus. Duterte put the island of Luzon, home to more than 50 million, on lockdown on March 16 as part of a monthlong containment strategy. Since then, police have arrested hundreds of people for violating the lockdown rules.
The incident in Pandacaqui is just the latest in a series of human rights abuses perpetrated by officials in the Philippines as part of their efforts to police the lockdown. Previous violations include putting minors in dog cages and forcing people to sit in the harsh midday sun.
Duterte caused outrage last week when he extended the police and military’s shoot-to-kill policy, previously used on the country’s drug dealers and drug users, to those who breached curfew.
But even prior to Duterte’s orders, police in Bulacan province, north of Manila, shot a man dead after he allegedly evaded a lockdown checkpoint on a motorbike. Police said they exchanged gunfire with the man before shooting him dead and recovering a pistol at the scene.
“These abusive practices should not be swept under the rug by local authorities under the pretense of ‘implementing curfews’ and ‘just following orders,’” Butch Olano, executive director of Amnesty International Philippines, said in an emailed statement. “Acts of abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment, must not be tolerated. Skirting the law especially during the COVID-19 pandemic only further enables the already prevalent culture of impunity in the country.”
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Cover: In this handout photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the nation about the new coronavirus situation during a late night live broadcast from Malacanang, Manila, Philippines, on Monday April 6, 2020. (Ace Morandante, Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)