BIG BUSINESS over the weekend suddenly found its voice to sync with the cry of ordinary folks’ long rendered hoarse at the wanton selectivity of justice in the implementation of quarantine protocols.
In a joint statement, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Financial Executives of the Philippines, the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, the Judicial Reform Index, the Management Association of the Philippines, and the Makati Business Club, called the government out on public officials who violate the very laws they themselves are sworn to uphold and to implement.
“We are therefore greatly disappointed — even appalled and dismayed — about news reports of public officials violating with impunity the IATF and DOH protocols intended to protect public health,” said the statement.
Among the high-profile public figures seen to have violated quarantine protocols were:
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who, despite being a person under investigation for Covid-19 accompanied his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration deputy administrator Mocha Uson who spoke in a large gathering of overseas Filipino workers under quarantine in Batangas.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Major Gen. Debold Sinas who celebrated his birthday with numerous guests during what he dismissed as a simple“mañanita.”
In Pimentel’s case, the Department of Justice called for “compassion.”
Mocha simply denied that physical distancing protocols were violated, notwithstanding damning evidence.
In Sinas, President Duterte showered his unqualified trust and confidence, the law is the law is the law be damned.
And violations are not exclusive to the higher ranked officials, at least one mayor did a Sinas on his birthday, the net is replete with posts of policemen, even barangay kagawads in various modes of infractions of the protocols.
The impunity with which those in government are allowed, indeed, bestowed, to fracture the law totally outbalances the severity with which the same laws are impacted upon the ordinary Filipinos.
No instance of this injustice can be better exampled than in Mang Dodong, the fish vendor who was detained for 12 days after he failed to show a travelpass at a checkpoint in Navotas.
“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 joint statement read. “Many of those arrested suffered detention, costs, humiliation, and inconveniences, and some endured unwarranted jailtime when unopened courts or government offices, or even limited bank branches, could not process their bail in a timely manner.”
The biz groups calling on the government: “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.”
We can almost hear Duterte’s retort: “Sabihin mo the law is the law well… akin na yun.”