‘Law is law unless friends kayo:’ Netizens slam gov’t double standards

“Law is law” trended on Twitter on Wednesday, May 13, after dozens of policemen gathered to celebrate the birthday of Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas on May 8.

Photos of the celebration were posted on the official Facebook page of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO). The post was no longer available as of Wednesday morning, May 13.

In a Facebook Live press briefing on Tuesday, May 12, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Archie Gamboa said Sinas informed him that “no party happened.” 

Gamboa said a mañanita – an early morning serenade – might have happened, and Sinas claimed physical distancing was observed. 

“I don’t think may violation ito,” Gamboa said.

Photos of the event showed otherwise, as dozens of policemen gathered in Camp Bagong Diwa and sat down at tables with one another. Government officials and health experts have prohibited mass gatherings during the lockdown, and have prescribed physical distancing of at least 6 feet between people.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday the party was “a big no-no,” and that Sinas could have also called off the party as soon as it started.

On the same day, Gamboa told Rappler he ordered the PNP Internal Affairs Service to probe Sinas’ event. Sinas has since apologized as well.

The “law is law” or “dura lex sed lex (the law may be harsh, but it is the law)” argument gained traction after trolls and staunch supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration defended the recent closure of media giant ABS-CBN. (READ: House, DOJ could have done more for ABS-CBN – FLAG)

Filipinos online were quick to call out the administration’s double standards in implementing laws and policies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Apart from the recent birthday party of NCRPO chief Sinas, netizens also recalled the murder of former military man Winston Ragos, who allegedly violated quarantine rules and was shot by a member of the Quezon City Police District.

Meanwhile, government officials who breached quarantine protocols such as Koko Pimentel and Mocha Uson got a slap on the wrist.

Netizens also slammed how the “law is law” argument did not hold water when it came to the reopening of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) during the lockdown. 

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chief Andrea Domingo stated POGOs earned significant revenue “without the risk of spreading COVID-19,” while Malacañang earlier asserted POGOs were “similar” to business process outsourcing companies.

Filipinos also cited the recent arrest of the 25-year-old teacher who posted about a reward to anyone who "kills" President Duterte as an uneven implementation of the "law is law" argument. 

Some Twitter users shared screenshots of other people sending death threats to Vice President Leni Robredo and rape threats to her children, with these messages not acted upon by the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation.

Other Filipinos even juxtaposed the teacher’s post with President Duterte’s many nonchalant statements about killing Filipinos, including unruly quarantine violators.

Here’s what other Filipinos had to say:

Rappler.com

Gaby Baizas

Gaby Baizas is a digital communications specialist at Rappler. Journalism is her first love, social media is her second—here, she gets to dabble in both. She hopes people learn to read past headlines the same way she hopes punk never dies.

image