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Jinggoy Estrada / Facebook

Labor group questions Jinggoy's release from jail

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A labor group protested the release of former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada from jail while other alleged lockdown violators remain in detention.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) posted on its Facebook page a photo of BMP vice president Lito Rastica and labor leader Reynaldo Dulay, who were arrested in Rodriguez, Rizal on Labor Day for supposedly breaking quarantine protocols, in a cramped detention cell in San Jose police station.

Rastica and Dulay were arrested while they were picketing near their residences and observing precautions such as wearing of masks and practicing social distancing, said group PAGGAWA. They were arrested despite having quarantine passes, the group added.

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"While yesterday, [former Sen.] Jinggoy Estrada was easily released by the police after they were detained for the same reason," it added.

Rastica and Dulay share the cell with other detainees who were mostly held for breaking lockdown protocols although others there had been detained for more than a month for lack of a lawyer, Bukluran wrote.

Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, in a separate statement, expressed concern on the "government’s mass arrest of 92 persons" on Labor Day last week.

Those arrested include relief workers and protesters in Iloilo assailing the government’s slow aid to the poor.

“While allies of President Duterte were left untouched despite violations of quarantine rules, the government has dissenters for the same supposed violations,” CLCLsaid.

Estrada arrested, released without detention

Their statements came following the arrest and subsequent release of Estrada in San Juan on Sunday afternoon for violating social distancing measures while he was distributing relief goods to city residents without proper coordination and permission from the local government.

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora has said Estrada is not an "Authorized Person Outside Residence", a government term for people with quarantine passes or have certification that they are exempted from restrictions on movement during the quarantine.

In a video taken by one of Estrada’s staff, at least 100 residents of Barangay Salapan were seen violating social distancing measures as they lined up for bangus or milk fish and other goods.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, citing information from the police, said Estrada was issued a "stern warning."

"We leave it at that," he added.

No sanctions for allies

Bukluran pointed out: “Police will arrest workers, the poor and activists for violating lockdown rules but when it comes to their own precincts, they do not follow it.”

“If they will release Estrada, let free [Sen] Bong Go and [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration official] Mocha Uson, then they should release all political prisoners [arrested] on May 1 and all lockdown ‘violators!’” they added.

Go was previously criticized for holding a relief activity for more than 2,000 fire victims in Butuan City on March 14.

The senator said safety precautions were taken in the event. He was also quoted in reply to Rappler that there was no mass gathering held as he went to an evacuation area. He also reportedly pointed out that the event took place a day before the Luzon lockdown.

The Palace meanwhile said they are leaving it to OWWA to handle Uson’s ECQ violation for meeting with 322 OFWs under quarantine. Uson, a presidential appointee who runs a Facebook "blog" supportive of the Duterte administration, has rarely been held to account for alleged violations, if at all.

Sen. Koko Pimentel is also facing a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice for violating his quarantine protocols when he went to a Makati hospital while waiting for the results of his COVID-19 test.

The National Bureau of Investigation also said they will invite Pimentel for a fact-finding probe after he finishes his quarantine.


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