DOJ says no unfair application of law, despite many quarantine violators being poor
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured Wednesday there’s no “unfair” or “inconsistent” application of the law in the implementation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine rules even as a “greater number” of the violators come from the low-income group.
“I wouldn’t really say that there is inconsistent application of the rule of law. It just so happen that a greater number of those arrested came from the low-income groups,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a virtual pre-State of the Nation Address media forum.
“That’s simply because they are the ones caught in the streets,” he added.
Many Filipinos have expressed rage over what they called double standards in the implementation of quarantine protocols as some government officials go unscathed despite violating the quarantine measures.
The public particularly reacted to the cases of National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Sinas drew flak after photos of his birthday “mañanita” went viral on social media, showing him accepting roses from his guests, blowing candles on a birthday cake, fist-bumping another officer, and his guests drinking without observing physical distancing.
Pimentel, meanwhile, was called out by officials of the Makati Medical Center for endangering the lives of medical frontliners when he went to the hospital to accompany his pregnant wife while supposed to be under quarantine as he was waiting for the results of his COVID-19 test.
Also reportedly left unpunished was Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Margaux “Mocha” Uson, who gathered and met migrant Filipino workers who were quarantined in Batangas.
But Guevarra argued that some of these officials are now facing charges.
“So it’s really a matter of perception. Greater number ‘yung mga tao sa masasabi nating nasa lower income level, o ‘yung mga matatawag nating mahihirap na nahuhuli sa mga violations but it doesn’t mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law. We apply this as uniformly as possible,” he said.
Earlier, President Duterte ordered the police to be stricter in enforcing quarantine rules, even asking them to jail violators to give them a lesson.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.