Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno questioned the Department of Justice (DOJ) for saying that they will be “tempering the rigor of law with human compassion” over Senator Koko Pimentel’s violation of COVID-19 quarantine protocols.

Diokno in a tweet compared the treatment between a high-ranking official and ordinary citizen offender. 

“Pag mahirap, kulong. Pag senador, compassion? Ang compassion e para sa mga may sakit at mga naghihirap, hindi para sa mga pulitikong sadyang nilagay pa sa peligro pati frontliners natin. Bakit pag ordinaryong tao, parusa agad? Pero kung big time, walang pananagutan?” he said.

A Philstar.com report said that DOJ will not yet investigate the senator until a formal complaint is filed.

“As I have said before, during abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Pimentel on Wednesday announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus.

He later got into hot water after he was confirmed to have accompanied his wife to the hospital on Tuesday night when he should be observing self-quarantine. 

The Makati Medical Center then issued a statement denouncing Pimentel’s “irresponsible and reckless action” as he “unduly exposed health workers to possible infection”. 

Pimentel drew more public outrage after membership shopping club S&R on Thursday verified reports that senator was seen grocery shopping at their branch in Bonifacio Global City last March 16.

Pimentel also told CNN Philippines in an interview that he attended birthday parties despite knowing that he could be a possible carrier of the virus.

Under the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, the following are listed as prohibited acts: 

  1. Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern;
  2. Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.

Violators of the law may be “penalized with a fine of not less than 20,000 pesos but not more than 50,000 pesos or imprisonment of not less than a month but not more than six months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.”

Meanwhile, netizens called for fair treatment between high-ranking officials and ordinary Filipino citizens over the violation of laws.