A local independent filmmaker shared how his family sent off their late relative while obeying quarantine rules in an open letter to the president and Manila’s controversial top cop.
Mike Alcazaren, also a Carlos Palanca awardee, shared this story on Facebook on May 20. As of writing, it made rounds at least 12,000 times and drew at least 24,000 reactions on the platform.
His letter was a form of protest against the president’s continued support for Metro Manila Police Major General Debold Sinas who came under fire recently for allegedly violating quarantine rules he was mandated to enforce.
Photos of Sinas and his subordinates celebrating his 55th birthday bash defying social distancing protocols surfaced online.
The controversy made international headlines and angered the public, but President Rodrigo Duterte refused to fire Sinas, saying he is “honest” and “a good officer” despite the alleged violations.
After Duterte’s televised address during which he defended Sinas, Alcazaren shared his story on Facebook on what it cost him and his family to follow enhanced community quarantine rules when his father died a month ago.
Between Filipinos and Duterte’s allies
For deaths not related to COVID-19, meanwhile, only immediate members of the family and other officiate and ministers are allowed to attend wakes.
Although he did not mention the cause of his father’s death, Alcarazen narrated that he and his younger brother were the only ones who witnessed the cremation ceremony and managed to pay their respects.
Dear Mr. President & Gen. Sinas,This is a picture of how we cremated our father more than 40 days ago. Those flowers…
“My younger brother and I were the only ones allowed to witness the cremation because we followed the law. We were quarantined with him at home when he passed on so we were the only ones permitted to accompany him. Because we followed the law,” Alcazaren said.
“Our six other siblings, their families, and his apos were not even there to see him off because we followed the law. When we brought his ashes home, we had to disinfect the urn and left it outside our compound because we were still under quarantine,” he added.
Alcazaren stressed that only his father’s relatives who reside within their compound paid their respects because the rest of the family live in other cities, and were thus not allowed to travel because of the strict stay-at-home protocols.
ECQ rules banned all on-site social gatherings and public transportation to limit physical movement and therefore help slow down COVID-19 transmissions.
Alcazaren then denounced Duterte and other government officials present in the televised address for “mocking” Filipinos who obey the laws they apparently “twist” to their advantage.
“So do not mock us with your lame jokes about spending your damn birthday alone, Mr. President. To those in that meeting, do not mock us with your sycophantic laughter. There are people whose experience is much worse than ours and you people mock them with every snicker, bad joke, stupid guffaw and useless information you share,” Alcazaren said.
He also chided those who continuously defend Duterte’s off-the-cuff remarks.
“By the way, that’s not a regional thing Mr. President, the cursing and crude jokes. My father was a proud Cebuano who never acted like a ‘butangero’. He treated people with respect and dignity,” he said.
An ironic reminder
On May 22, Sinas reminded the public against holding mass gatherings during the celebration of the Eid al-Fitr of the Feast of Ramadan on May 25, which Duterte declared a regular holiday.
“Every year talagang nagtitipon-tipon ang mga ‘yan. Kaya nga ang ginawa namin, kinausap namin ang mga Imams na based sa directive ng IATF, close pa rin ‘yung malalaking mosques, wala pa rin pagtitipon kasi ‘yun ‘yung policy ng IATF,” the embattled cop said during a virtual press briefing.
“Ang sabi ni chief PNP magprepare kami kasi ‘yung mga mosques, guwardiyahan atsaka tingnan na ‘yung directive ng IATF ay masunod na walang pagtitipon-tipon o pagdadasal,” Sinas added.
The public perceived this ironic given that he and his subordinates supposedly violated this basic quarantine protocol in the first place.
Malacañang likewise stressed the observance of standing community guidelines and stringent physical distancing measures during the holiday.