Several business groups have hit the apparent double standard in the application of the rule of law for quarantine violators, saying more than 30,000 ordinary Filipinos have been arrested while certain public officials are flouting the protocols with immunity.
“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 pandemic,” read the joined statement issued by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines; the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Inc.; the Institute of Corporate Directors; the Judicial Reform Initiative; the Makati Business Club; and the Management Association of the Philippines.
“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... Upholding the law and ensuring faith in our justice system stands as the bedrock of our democracy, and will enable the economy to survive and recover from these most trying times. The sacrifice of our people deserves nothing less.”
The business groups noted that ordinary Filipinos who were arrested for quarantine violations were treated differently from public officials who committed the same mistakes.
“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,” read the joint statement.
“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.”
Several public officials have drawn flak for what were seen to be violations of the quarantine guidelines, including National Capital Region Police Office head Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas over a mañanita to celebrate his 55th birthday while Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III for visiting a hospital to accompany his pregnant wife despite being a person under investigation for COVID-19.
Mass testing for inmates
A legislator on Sunday called for the testing of all inmates and correction officers showing early symptoms of respiratory ailments as he warned of a flare-up in COVID-19 cases in the country’s prisons.
“Nobody should be left behind in terms of prompt access to free testing as well as patient care, support and treatment just because they happen to be in prison,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, vice chairman of the House’s health committee.
“We’re afraid we might have a much higher COVID-19 case fatality rate among inmates in particular owing to poor nutrition, limited access to health care and high rates of undiagnosed pre-existing conditions, including tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus infection.”
Filipino Nurses United on Sunday repeated its demand to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for his alleged weak leadership that had caused unforgivable delays in the crafting and implementation of critical life-saving decisions.
“At no other time has the critical role of the Department of Health been so highlighted for its utter failure to ensure people’s access to timely, efficient and quality basic health services to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” the group said in a statement.
The group cited Duque’s alleged failure to establish early COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures and the delay in identifying referral hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients, among other things.
The three airlines based in the Philippines may have to attract fresh investors to help them survive the extreme financial difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said Sunday.
“The best way for the government to help our airlines is to create all the conditions and put in place all the precautions needed to hopefully allow them to slowly resume flight operations at least domestically,” Pimentel said.
“Clearly, the longer their planes stay on the ground, the more money they lose,” he said, referring to Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines.
Call on expenses
The group Kilusang Mayo Uno has called on the government and businesses to shoulder the work-related expenses of employees placed under the “work-from-home” scheme.
Private offices and government agencies should fully compensate their workers for the costs arising from work-from-home schemes, including but not limited to the cost of electricity, the internet, calls and texts, the group said.
Workers should not be made to pay for or subsidize the operational costs of companies. Neither should they be forced to buy devices needed by their employers.
The Department of Public Works and Highways says it will begin construction of temporary dormitories for health-care workers at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City on the first week of June.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar says the proposed dormitories were a much-needed facility for health-care workers to recharge their minds and bodies after a strenuous day at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his report to Villar, Undersecretary Emil Sadain said the off-site dormitories were intended for the medical personnel of East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, V. Luna Medical Center and other hospital workers.
To ensure safety, the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development on Sunday ordered the close monitoring of the resumption of construction work following the start of the implementation of the general community quarantine today.
“The protocols will be applied regardless of the classification of risks to ensure the protection of our workers and keep construction sites COVID-19-free,” Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said.
“Non-compliance will warrant the imposition of a cease-and-desist order against the covered entities.”