Filipinos decry double standards for quarantine violators

The Philippines now has 707 known COVID-19 cases, with 45 deaths. Twenty-eight people are known to have recovered. (AP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

Filipinos decry double standards for quarantine violators

  • High-ranking politicians have reportedly ignored quarantine restrictions
  • Senator Pimentel is accused of endangering medical staff

MANILA: Public discontent is rising in the Philippines, where many are accusing the government of double standards following reports that high-ranking officials have failed to respect the island-wide community quarantine on Luzon, initiated by the Department of Health on March 17 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Among those known to have broken the quarantine rules and to have later tested positive for COVID-19 is Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
Pimentel drew public ire for accompanying his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center (MMC), despite knowing that he could be infected. He later disclosed that his COVID-19 test came out positive.
MMC management slammed the senator for his “irresponsible and reckless action,” which put health care workers at risk of contracting the disease.
MMC director Saturnino Javier said that several members of staff may need to be quarantined following Pimentel’s visit, “which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital.” He added that although Pimentel was not aware that he had contracted COVID-19 when he visited the hospital, he was supposed to take the recommended precautions given that he knew Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, with whom he had been in contact, was infected.

FASTFACTS

• High-ranking politicians have reportedly ignored quarantine restrictions.

• Senator Pimentel accused of endangering medical staff.

Pimentel initially denied any wrongdoing, but on Thursday he apologized to the hospital, saying that he had not intended to breach any protocols and simply wanted to be with his wife during her labor.
Despite public uproar, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Pimentel’s conduct would not be investigated.
“The glaring double standard in how penalties are being imposed in this ‘enhanced community quarantine’ cannot be ignored,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights group KARAPATAN. “While the marginalized have faced ... unjust penalties and human rights violations for supposed violations of the quarantine measures, Senator Pimentel, who is actually positive for the disease, gets to have an easy pass despite putting hundreds of lives — especially frontline health workers and medical personnel — at risk with his recklessness.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who had previously asserted that quarantine violators would be arrested, said the DOJ would “temper the rigor of the law with human compassion.”
Palabay responded, “Where was this ‘human compassion’ when the homeless and the urban poor were subjected to ... detention in dog cages, or being made to sit under the sun as punishment for simply being outside their homes for the need to earn a living, or for simply having no home at all?”
During a press briefing on Thursday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted that Pimentel had indeed violated the quarantine rules.
The Philippines now has 707 known COVID-19 cases, with 45 deaths. Twenty-eight people are known to have recovered.


Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during virus shutdown

Updated 30 March 2020

Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during virus shutdown

  • The 1884 painting, titled the ‘Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring,’ was taken during a pre-dawn break-in at the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam
  • The criminals smashed through a glass door and then took the painting, which is valued at up to €6 million

THE HAGUE: Thieves stole a painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh early Monday in a daring heist from a museum that was closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 1884 painting, titled the “Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring,” was taken during a pre-dawn break-in at the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam.
The criminals smashed through a glass door and then took the painting, which is valued at up to €6 million ($6.6 million).
“I am shocked and unbelievably annoyed this theft has happened,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, one of the museum’s directors, told a press conference.
“Art is there to be seen, to be enjoyed, to inspire and to bring solace, particularly in these troubled times in which we find ourselves,” De Lorm said.
The theft happened on what would have been the 167th birthday of the brilliant yet troubled artist.
“Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring” comes from relatively early on in Van Gogh’s career, before the prolific artist embarked on his trademark post-impressionist paintings such as “Sunflowers” and his vivid self-portraits.
The painting was on loan from its owners, the Groninger Museum in the north of the Netherlands, as part of an exhibition.
The Singer Laren museum closed two weeks ago in compliance with Dutch government measures aimed at tackling the spread of COVID-19.
Dutch police said the criminals had broken in at around 3:15 am (0115 GMT).
“Police officers immediately rushed to the scene but the perpetrators had escaped,” Dutch police said in a statement, appealing for witnesses.
The painting has an estimated value of between one million and six million euros, Dutch art detective Arthur Brand said.
“The hunt is on,” said Brand, who is known for recovering stolen Nazi art including “Hitler’s Horses.”
It was the third time the famous Dutch master’s works have been targeted in the Netherlands since the 1990s, Brand said.
“To me this looks like the work of a copycat,” Brand told AFP, adding the modus operandi was similar to the other two cases.
“The thieves only went for a Van Gogh, while there are other works too in the museum,” he said.
Asked whether he thought there was enough security at the museum Brand said “it is very difficult to say.”
“Securing a painting is very difficult. It is something that has to be displayed for people to see,” he said.
The museum’s 3,000 pieces also include works by Dutch abstract master Piet Mondrian and Dutch-Indonesian painter Jan Toorop, as well as a casting of “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin.
Singer Laren was targeted in 2007 when thieves stole a number of castings from its gardens including “The Thinker,” Dutch media reports said. The castings were recovered two days later.
Two Van Gogh masterpieces went back on display at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum last year after they were stolen from the museum in 2002.
The paintings — the 1882 ” View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and the 1884/5 “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church at Nuenen” — were recovered by Italian investigators in September 2016 when they raided a home belonging to an infamous mafia drug baron near Naples.
Previously three Van Goghs that were stolen from the Noordbrabants Museum in 1990 later resurfaced when a notorious Dutch criminal made a deal with prosecutors.