The Quezon City official who threatened quarantine violators in a Facebook post reasoned that his post was personal despite him being a public official and his posts were made public.
Rannie Ludovica, head of Quezon City’s Task Force Disiplina, on August 3 shared a status stating: “Mula bukas, shoot to kill na ang lalabag sa MECQ.”
The national government placed Mega Manila, which comprises the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, under the modified enhanced community quarantine again. This came following a distress call from the country’s health sector amid the continued surge of COVID-19 infections.
Although Ludovica’s post was immediately taken down on the same day, online news outlet Rappler managed to report it. The report eventually triggered criticisms thrown against the local official online.
In a statement posted on his Facebook account early Tuesday, Ludovica passed the blame to Rappler and claimed that his Facebook status was his “personal” view against quarantine violators and not an official directive from the Quezon City government.
“Bilang paglilinaw, walang polisiyang ganito ang local na Pamahalaang Lungsod Quezon. Ang aking personal Facebook post lamang ang pinagbatayan ng Rappler ng malisyosong impormasyon na ito upang palabasin na ito ay pormal na kautusan mula sa pamahalaang lungsod,” he said.
Ludovica further argued that he just aired his frustration over Manila’s return from the relaxed general community quarantine to MECQ, citing that the revert to strict quarantine measures was the fault of undisciplined Filipinos who kept on violating health protocols.
He then asserted his position as being in solidarity with the rest of the frontliners who put their lives at risk for the safety of the rest of the Filipinos and their families.
“Bilang kami ay bente kwatro oras na nagseserbisyo, tanging pagsunod sa health protocols at quarantine guidelines lamang ang paraan upang masugpo ang pandemyang ito,” Ludovica said.
The Quezon City Task Force Disiplina is a civilian force tapped to patrol neighborhoods and enforce lockdown measures within the locality.
However, some of its members last May got involved in the mauling of a fish vendor who failed to wear a face mask in public.
Got schooled online
While Ludovica earned some praises on Facebook, human rights activists such as Sen. Risa Hontiveros denounced his actions and specifically tagged the accounts of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and the Commission on Human Rights to hold him accountable.
“As a QC resident for the last 35 yrs, I will personally work to hold this public official accountable for inciting violence vs civilians. Sino ngayon ang terorista?” Hontiveros said.
She encouraged other officials to do their jobs well without issuing threats to the public.
“Hindi tama ang konduktang ito mula sa isang opisyal ng gobyerno. Gawin natin ang trabaho natin nang walang pagbabanta ng patayan sa gitna ng pandemya. Hindi ka nakakatulong,” Hontiveros said.
Subukan mo nang malaman mo.
As a QC resident for the last 35 yrs, I will personally work to hold this public official accountable for inciting violence vs civilians.
Sino ngayon ang terorista? https://t.co/QpfRvrn3F7
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) August 3, 2020
Human rights group Karapatan likewise cited Ludovica in its statement against the military’s suggestion to regulate social media as part of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Karapatan said that such censorship may not affect officials like him who have posted “terroristic” threats online.
“Officials like Quezon City Task Force Disiplina’s Rannie Ludovica who actually publish terroristic threats on their social media accounts can get away unpunished or unsanctioned—if not for the loud outcry and condemnation of the public,” it said.
Meanwhile, while officials like Quezon City Task Force Disiplina’s Rannie Ludovica who actually publish terroristic threats on their social media accounts can get away unpunished or unsanctioned—if not for the loud outcry and condemnation of the public.
— Karapatan (@karapatan) August 4, 2020
Ludovica is an “appointive” public official based on the definition provided by the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”
In line with this, section 4 states that:
(b) “Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill.”
(e) “Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public.”
QC mayor condemns Ludovica’s remarks
Belmonte on Monday evening issued a statement clarifying that Ludovica’s post does not reflect the city’s policies.
“I don’t think his post is intended to be taken literally.I see it more as an expression of frustration that five months into the quarantine, the cases still keep growing, partly because people can’t seem to comply with minimum health standards,” the mayor said in a statement.
“Having said this, I think it was very wrong and in very poor taste for him to have posted this message and I’d like to assure the people of Quezon City that his personal post in no way reflects our city’s policies, principles and inclinations,” she added.
Belmonte also condemned Ludovica’s “irresponsible” statement on Tuesday.
“Ang pahayag po ng pinuno ng Task Force Disiplina ay amin pong kinokondena. Ito po ay mali. It is inappropriate. It is irresponsible at gusto ko lang pong bigyang diin na ito po ay pinost niya sa kaniyang Facebook account na personal,” Belmonte said at a press briefing.
“Ito po ay hindi sumasalamin sa mga polisiya, sa mga prinsipyo ng Pamahalaang Lungsod Quezon,” she added.