Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended eight business groups for calling out the Duterte administration’s double standards in implementing quarantine laws and rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Lima, a known social justice and human rights champion, said she shares their disgust in how the current regime applies the law and quarantine rules differently.
“Both timely and significant is the joint statement issued on May 31 by eight big business groups calling out this regime’s double standard in enforcing the IATF rules, and expressing their disappointment and disbelief over the same,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 811.
“Towards the poor, who are the severely impacted by the pandemic, the Duterte law has little empathy and is merciless, but towards public officials and political allies, who continue to flaunt their nasty privileges and knowingly violate quarantine rules, the same law is compassionate and softhearted,” she added.
The eight groups include the Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Institute of Solidarity in Asia, Institute of Corporate Directors, Judicial Reform Initiative, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
In their statement, the groups said they were “appalled and dismayed” about news reports of public officials violating with impunity the protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Health to protect public health.
Some of the administration officials who were left unpunished after violating quarantine rules include National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson, among others.
Sinas held a party for his 55th birthday with dozens of policemen in attendance in Camp Bagong Diwa last May 8 while Uson posted false news on social media.
De Lima thanked the eight groups for siding with the people on the issue, recognizing their sacrifices and acknowledging the many cases of abuses or cruelty that the poor suffer at the hands of the administration.
“Na ang pagpatay kay Winston Ragos sa Fairview, ang pagmamalupit sa isang tindero ng gulay sa QC at ng isda sa Caloocan, pagkulong ng mga tao sa hawla ng aso sa Laguna, at marami pang kaso ng pag-abuso sa mahihirap at nasasantabi, ay mga buhay na karanasan para sa ating lahat anuman ang ating estado sa buhay,” she said.
“We all relate with each other—in all aspects of life, including business and labor—on the basis of our human rights and our common need for the protection of the rule of law. That’s why we should be horrified that even in this perilous time of a deadly pandemic, the Duterte regime can even afford to employ the same repugnant methods of violating these important rights and disregarding the supremacy of law,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that these groups would serve as an inspiration for other groups from the private sector to defend the rule of law and human rights, and demand accountability from the abuses under the current regime.
“By doing that, they are also helping their workers and the ordinary Filipinos to survive this pandemic and regain hope for better days ahead. To quote from their statement, in the context of this pandemic: ‘The sacrifice of our people deserves nothing less.’ I couldn’t agree more,” she said. (30)