No double standard in enforcement of quarantine laws: DOJ

MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday denied allegations of a double standard in the government's enforcement of quarantine laws amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"I wouldn’t really say that there is inconsistent application of rule of law. It just so happened that a greater number of those arrested came from the lower-income groups simply because they are the ones who were caught on the streets and for that reason since they have been found, or at the time of their arrest, found violating certain quarantine rules and regulations," Guevarra said in a pre-SONA forum briefing.

Guevarra stressed that the law is applied as uniformly as possible with no distinction to social status.

Citing the case of Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III, he added that well-off violators of the law are also charged and prosecuted.

"We know the celebrated case of one senator who the beginning was thought being given preferential or special treatment by law enforcement agencies as well as by the DOJ (Department of Justice) and we all know that is not true," Guevarra said.

The case against the Pimentel stemmed from an incident in March when the Makati Medical Center said the lawmaker breached its infection and containment protocols when he went to the hospital with his wife who was to give birth through cesarean section.

The hospital said Pimentel's visit "unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection" after it was found out that he tested positive for Covid-19.

Guevarra said a preliminary investigation of Pimentel's case is now ongoing.

He likewise pointed out certain police officers who have also been found or alleged to have violated certain protocols or quarantine regulations have also been named in complaints filed with the prosecutor’s office.

"Its really a matter of perception because the greater number are people in lower-income levels which we call poor are usually apprehended for violations but it doesn’t mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law. We apply this as uniformly as possible." Guevarra said. (PNA)

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