A Pasay city councilor, who recently came under fire online for cursing at health care workers, finally apologized for his actions following possible legal repercussions against him.
Pasay City Councilor Arnel Moti Arceo was captured in a video swearing and shouting at health workers who were conducting tests on government employees at the Pasay City Hall which surfaced and made rounds on Facebook over the weekend.
The video clip was actually taken by Arceo himself on May 19. In an apology he expressed in an interview, Arceo said he did not know how the video got out in public.
He said he was only alarmed that the testing activity was being carried out in the local session hall, worried that this would put the lives of employees at risk.
“You are inviting possible carriers inside City Hall. Many people come [here]. They are wearing PPEs but the employees at the session hall do not wear any,” he told the Inquirer.
The four-minute video was shared by Facebook user Alexia Guevara who said it was sent to her by a friend.
So, a friend sent me this disturbing video from May 19 sa pasay city daw. Apparently, yung guy na nagvivideo ay city…
In the video he took, Arceo captured health personnel wearing protective personal equipment as they conduct tests. Government employees who were waiting to be tested, meanwhile, were wearing face masks.
The video itself had since been viewed more than a million times as of writing.
Guevara said in the post that the health workers were supposed to file a complaint. However, the head of the Pasay City Health Department only told them to dismiss Arceo’s outrage.
“And now, all the people involved are scared to push through with a complaint kasi yung trabaho nila yung pwedeng mawala sa kanila,” Guevara said.
Arceo also denied having cursed at anyone, insisting he raised his voice only as an outburst of emotion.
“It is true that I cursed. But I just want to clarify that I did not curse anyone. This was an outburst of emotion. If my cursing was hard to listen to, that was my mistake. I shouted, yes, but what I felt because of what they were doing was a mix of shock, anger and fear,” he said.
DILG: Arceo deserves sanction
When the incident reached the Department of Interior and Local Government, Secretary Eduardo Año said in an interview with ABS-CBN News’ TeleRadyo that Arceo can be sanctioned for excessive swearing.
However, this matter is up to Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano to decide.
“Syempre pinakamaganda naman dyan, magkaroon sila ng settlement. Pero sa nakikita ko, masyadong excessive ‘yung pagmumura ni city councilor kaya dapat meron din tayong mailagay na sanction dito,” he said.
Rubiano, meanwhile, has organized a meeting between Arceo and the Pasay City health personnel to sort out the misunderstanding.
The rapid testing procedures were only conducted at the venue following a directive from the Pasay City human resource department which issued a memo addressed to all departments of the city’s offices.
The memo which was dated May 18 notified the schedule of the COVID-19 rapid testing program for Pasay City government’s skeletal workforce for the upcoming work week.
The testing venue was transferred to the Mall of Asia Arena following the incident.
Harassment of health workers is against the law
The majority of the comments against Arceo over the video decried harassment against health workers—a violation of an ordinance that protects all front liners from discrimination in Pasay City.
Pasay City Ordinance 6100 series of 2020 bans all acts of “discrimination, harassment, violence, cyber-bullying” against “confirmed COVID-19 infected persons, close contact, persons under investigation, persons under monitoring, health workers, hospital employees or frontliners.”
Those who commit such acts will be penalized with a fine up to P5,000 and jail time of at least six months.
The Department of Health also appealed to the public last March to support health workers and other individuals who are on the front line of the defense against COVID-19.
“Hindi po ito ang panahon para talikuran natin ang ating healthcare workers. “Sila po ay nag-iingat pa rin para hindi makapanghawa ng iba. So sana po ‘wag naman po natin itong gawin sa ating mga healthcare workers,” Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said.