During the quarantine, strict laws and measures have been implemented by the government to control the spread of COVID-19. There have been a number of press briefings and presidential addresses held to announce guidelines, lest citizens face the repercussions of breaking these rules. Over the course of the quarantine, a handful of civilians have been arrested (and even killed) for allegedly violating the law.
But it’s become clear that the government turns a blind eye when the people breaking rules are government authorities or police officials. While civilians respectfully follow the law or are unfairly punished for breaching it, these officials don’t face the same consequences.
We can’t ignore the hypocrisy of our government any further. Here’s a list of instances the government disobeyed or ignored laws they were meant to enforce (and follow) during quarantine.
Police General Debold Sinas’ birthday party
Despite the ban on social gatherings during lockdown, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) police held a birthday party for Major General Debold Sinas at Camp Bagong Diwa. The photos were originally posted on the NCRPO official Facebook page but have been taken down as of today, May 13. Dozens of guests were seen without face masks and sitting close to each other while eating.
Metro Manila police chief Major Gen. Debold Sinas issued the apology as he claimed some photos of the occasion that circulated on social media were “edited” and “old photos.”
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) May 13, 2020
Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa denies that there was a party and called the gathering a “mañanita” salubong, despite the photos of people crowding over tables of food, birthday cake and decorations. Sinas has apologized for the party, but claims that the photos were edited. Gamboa has since ordered the Internal Affairs Service to investigate the celebration.
[READ: OK, so what is a “mañanita”?]
Mocha Uson’s gathering with OFWs in Batangas
On Apr. 26, Deputy administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Mocha Uson was seen holding a gathering for some 300 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) at Matabungkay Beach Resort. Though social distancing was allegedly followed, many netizens reiterated that Mocha Uson’s gathering as seen in videos and photos violated the ban on social gatherings in Luzon.
Arrest of Ronnel Mas for posting P50 million Duterte bounty
Public school teacher Ronnel Mas was arrested for tweeting that he would offer P50 million for anyone who would kill the president. “I will give 50 Million reward kung sino makakapatay kay Duterte. #NotoABSCBNShutDown,” read the now deleted tweet. He was arrested on May 11 with charges of sedition against Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Mas has recently begged for forgiveness and said that the tweet was merely an attempt at being viral.
NBI, PNP, baka naman pwede niyo ring hulihin etong mga to. If you can arrest a person for offering a reward to someone who can kill the President, maybe you want to do the same to the many DDS who have been issuing VP Leni death threats. https://t.co/7EgnpiHnyv pic.twitter.com/1jVl8G5IGP
— Ryan ✊🏼🇵🇭 (@rryyyaaaannnn) May 12, 2020
Meanwhile, government officials failed to make the same punishments towards citizens who have posted death threats and sexual slurs towards Vice President Leni Robredo.
Koko Pimentel enters Makati Med despite quarantine protocols
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III announced on Mar. 25 that he has tested positive for COVID-19. On Mar. 24, he was at Makati Medical Center (Makati Med) despite already being declared as a person under investigation four days prior. Because of Pimentel’s visit, medical frontliners were put at risk of being quarantined and facilities disinfected. Makati Med then released a statement denouncing the actions of Pimentel, stating that his irresponsibility and arrogance placed many lives at risk.
Complaints were filed against Pimentel, but he is still awaiting a hearing scheduled on May 20. His term in office is unaffected by his breach of protocols.
Meanwhile, military officials attempted to violently arrest a Makati citizen after an altercation about the latter’s employee who was spotted not wearing a mask while watering the plants in their property. A fish vendor in Quezon City was also beaten by police officials for failing to wear a mask.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered for ABS-CBN’s shutdown through a cease-and-desist order last May 5. Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed that ABS-CBN was closed down due to failure to file their taxes and file for a renewal of franchise. Before this, there were 11 bills in the House of Representatives on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, but all have remained pending.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) February 24, 2020
Due to its pending status, Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told the house that “they will follow the advice of the Department of Justice, allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.” Despite this, the government forced ABS-CBN to cease broadcasting on its TV and radio channels.
Although there is evidence that ABS-CBN did not break any laws, SolGen Calida still ordered a cease-and-desist for the network, placing around 11,000 of the company’s workers at risk of unemployment.
While these allegations against ABS-CBN were thoroughly investigated, the same cannot be said for the numerous extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s presidency, incursions by China in the West Philippine Sea, and Mocha Uson’s long tirade of fake news (to which she has only just recently received an NBI subpoena for). Additionally, Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, despite being an inessential industry, were allowed to resume operations last May 1.
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Writer: THEA TORRES
ART JOEY SIMBULAN