From mañanita to despedida: How some gov’t employees breached quarantine protocols

June 17, 2020 - 9:01 PM
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BFP personnel
Some personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection Region VI in this photo uploaded on Facebook on June 14, 2020. (Photo from Public Information Section, BFP 6 via Facebook)

After mañanita, Filipino online users are now criticizing the “despedida party” involving some personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection Region VI that was held in Boracay last week despite the ban on non-essential social gatherings.

The group went to the famed island from June 12 to 14 to supposedly attend a conference held by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force before it officially opened to tourists in Western Visayas on June 16.

The BFP staff stayed there even after members of the task force had already left post-conference, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

She also confirmed that the group held a “despedida party” despite stringent quarantine measures.

One of the personnel in the bureau, which is under the Department of Interior and Local Government, had later on tested positive for COVID-19.

The Malay municipal government said in a statement that “the BFP personnel allegedly went on unofficial business and violated quarantine protocols of both the Municipality of Malay and Municipality of Kalibo (the personnel’s place of origin).”

It also assured the public that it is exhausting all means to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 following the group’s “irresponsible and blatant disregard of quarantine protocols.”

Puyat in a phone interview with Philstar.com also said that the staff of the resort where the party was held was ordered to undergo a “strict quarantine.”

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has sacked the BFP regional director in Region VI and the personnel involved in the quarantine protocol breach.

‘Despedida is the new mañanita’ 

Meanwhile, the disregard on lockdown measures, specifically in relation to non-essential social gatherings, has prompted Twitter users to recall another party that was held by law enforcers last May.

“From mañanita to despedida. The Duterte admin is the biggest breaker of its own rules. Then again, in this admin, rules don’t apply to gov’t officials, only to ordinary citizens,” award-winning screenwriter Eric Cabahug said.

“First, there was a birthday party. Now, it’s a despedida. Deplorable. This government appears to be the number one breaker of its own rules,” wrote a Twitter user.

Another online user couldn’t help but comment in jest, “From mañanita to despedida. Ano kayang next, quinceneara? Despedida de soltera? Pasiyam?”

Despedida, which literally means “farewell,” is described by Lexico as “a social event honoring someone who is about to depart on a journey or leave an organization.”

It also said that the term refers to a “going-away party.”

Mañanita, on the other hand, refers to a birthday “salubong” or a traditional early morning “serenade” for a celebrant. This word first entered the mainstream news cycle when some police officers held such gathering for Metro Manila Police chief Major General Debold Sinas.

In the viral photos last month, Sinas and some members of the National Capital Region Police Office were seen standing close to each other, crowding at a buffet table and eating meals without being distant from each other.

(Screenshot by Interaksyon)

Sinas earned condemnation from Filipinos since there are strict guidelines against holding mass gatherings in light of the health crisis and amid the then-imposed enhanced community quarantine over Metro Manila. The NCRPO is also expected to enforce the quarantine rules.

The controversial mañanita reached international news outlets but that didn’t stop Sinas from continuously pursuing his duties as the top cop of Metro Manila, especially after President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed his disagreement over firing him.

Despite failing to abide by the ban on social gatherings, Sinas and the police officers involved in the mañanita were only investigated, not sanctioned.

Meanwhile, some critics of the controversial anti-terrorism bill mobilized last June 12 at UP Diliman in an assembly they called a “mañanita” in an attempt to still abide by the government’s restrictions on gathering.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government only allows a ten-people limit on gatherings under the less strict general community quarantine.