“Where was this ‘human compassion’ when the homeless and the urban poor were subjected to warrantless arrests, inhumane detention in dog cages, or being made to sit under the sun as punishment for simply being outside their homes for the need to earn living or for simply having no home at all?”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan asserted that Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III must be held accountable for breaching quarantine protocols.
Pimentel has recently disclosed that he is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said “Pimentel’s actions should not go unpunished.”
Palabay said that Pimentel has put many lives in danger after he went to the Makati Medical Center to accompany his pregnant wife and went shopping for groceries in S&R BGC.
“The Department of Justice’s firm refusal to penalize him speaks of the ways justice is blatantly twisted by this government, all in efforts to protect its allies and allow them to violate laws with impunity,” Palabay said.
‘Compassion, for Duterte ally only?’
Karapatan decried the government’s double standard on how penalties are being imposed against those who “violate” the protocols of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
She said that the double standard is so glaring that it cannot be ignored.
The Palace also defended Pimentel while the PDP-Laban Party also said that they will not take action against Pimentel who is the president of the party.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also said that the DOJ will not yet investigate Pimentel saying that “…during abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion.”
But Palabay asked, “Where was this ‘human compassion’ when the homeless and the urban poor were subjected to warrantless arrests, inhumane detention in dog cages, or being made to sit under the sun as punishment for simply being outside their homes for the need to earn living or for simply having no home at all?”
She said that the DOJ has no excuse to not pursue charges against Pimentel for a clear breach of quarantine measures especially since he is a person under investigation and should have imposed self-quarantine at home.
The Makati Medical Center (MMC), in a statement, called out the “irresponsible and reckless action of the senator.”
Medical Director and Interim Co-CEO doctor Saturnino Javier said Pimentel unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection.
“He (Pimentel) added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak. More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel, should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated healthcare institution to contain the spread of the infection,” MMC said.
The netizens were also quick to point out the government’s double standards in implementing the Republic Act 11332 otherwise known as “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”
Under this Act, among the Prohibited Acts (Section 9) are the following:
– Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and
– Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.
The DOJ said that those who violate RA 11332 can be arrested.
“While the marginalized have faced cruel, inhumane, and unjust penalties and human rights violations for supposed violations of the quarantine measures, Senator Pimentel, who is actually positive for the disease, gets to have an easy pass despite putting hundreds of lives — especially frontline health workers and medical personnel — at fatal risk for his recklessness,” Palabay said.
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