Robredo questions Duterte's arrest order for 'small-time' COVID-19 infractions

Published May 9, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo does not agree with President Duterte’s order to arrest people who are not wearing their face masks.

“I don’t understand why our default is to arrest people,” Robredo said in Filipino during her Sunday radio show.

VP Leni Robredo (OVP photo)

“Don’t say that for those with the smallest infractions but there are other bigger personalities that have a worse infraction, right, but they were not arrested. It’s a wrong response,” she added.

Last year, newly retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Debold Sinas held a birthday party during the height of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) while Senator Koko Pimental went to the Makati Medical Center while knowing he tested positive to COVID-19.

Celebrities Tim Yap and KC Concepcion also held a party at The Manor in Camp John Hay in Baguio City with contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in attendance.

Sinas and Pimental barely got a slap in the wrist while Yap and his celebrity-friends were only fined P1,500 each for the violation of the country’s health and safety protocols.

The vice president insisted that instead of arresting those who are violating the protocols, they should be educated on the proper wearing of face masks.

“The correct response to it is to educate them. Educate them how to use it,” Robredo said. “It doesn’t help that our default is to arrest.”

Duterte’s order is also contrary to the earlier statement by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to require people who violated the safety protocols to render community service.

Robredo also questioned the logic of putting these people in jail when virus transmission could happen in jails and detention facilities because of the lack of space and ventilation.

“Ang sitwasyon sa mga jail natin grabe. Mag-aaresto ka kasi gusto mong i-protect ang mga tao pero lalong counter productive iyon eh (The situation in our jail is too much. You are going to arrest because you want to protect the people, but it’s more counterproductive),” she said.

In other countries, people who violate the health protocols are made to pay a fine. Robredo said this could be another consideration but the first step must be to warn and educate the people first.