Biz groups ‘greatly disappointed’ by gov’t execs violating pandemic protocols
MANILA, Philippines — Several business groups have expressed their “disappointment” over public officials violating protocols set by the national government in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a joint statement, the groups noted that government leaders—whether national or local—are expected to serve as role models in having discipline during the health crisis.
“We are therefore greatly disappointed – even appalled and dismayed – about news reports of public officials violating with impunity the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and DOH (Department of Health) protocols intended to protect public health,” the groups said.
“As the country rides this tide of uncertainty, we trust that our leaders at the national and local levels, will demonstrate beyond doubt, the highest standards in observing and enforcing the rule of law, and serve as role models in discipline and moral ascendancy,” they added.
The groups further said: “Upholding the law and ensuring faith in our justice system stands as the bedrock of our democracy.”
“[It] will enable the economy to survive and recover from these most trying times. The sacrifice of our people deserves nothing less,” the groups said.
Several government officials were met with criticisms over their supposed violations of quarantine protocols enforced by the government.
To recall, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Margaux “Mocha” Uson visited some 332 quarantined overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Matabungkay in Lian, Batangas.
But she drew flak after the activity seemed to constitute “mass gathering” which is prohibited under quarantine guidelines.
Even National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas was criticized over a “mañanita“ to celebrate his 55th birthday.
Senator Koko Pimentel was also criticized for visiting a hospital to accompany his pregnant wife despite being a person under investigation for the coronavirus disease.
The business groups said that government protocols “have affected millions, in terms of livelihood and freedom of movement,” as they noted that “different interpretations of rules” have led to numerous violations among the public.
“From March 17 to April 17, almost 30,000 violators had been arrested; 6,616 underwent inquest while 23,016 cases were for filing. The number was reported to have reached nearly 41,000 by May 1,” the business groups said.
“Many of those arrested suffered detention, costs, humiliation, and inconveniences, and some endured unwarranted jail time when unopened courts or government offices, or even limited bank branches, could not process their bail in a timely manner,” they added.
The groups said that all of these happened even with Supreme Court administrative circulars “that reduce bail and allow recognizance as among the means of releasing the accused.”
“The private sector strongly supports the ‘whole-of-government, whole-of-society’ effort to respond and recover from the social and economic adversities brought about by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic,” the groups said.
“Together with the international community, we have demonstrated utmost cooperation, and enjoined our own officers and employees to abide by the quarantine rules of the IATF,” they added.
Business groups that joined in the statement include the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CANCHAM), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Inc. (ISA), the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), the Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), the Makati Business Club (MBC), and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).
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