Vico Sotto assures residents that nearby COVID-19 facilities are safe: Virus doesn’t go through walls

April 1, 2020 - 8:16 PM
In this July 16, 2019 photo, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto attends a vaccination campaign program of the Department of Health in Pasig City Elementary School ( Toledo IV)

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto assured his constituents that the new quarantine facilities developed for the COVID-related cases are safe amid their fears of getting infected.

Sotto previously announced that the Dahlia Hotel Pasig, a drive-in hotel, has been converted into a quarantine facility that can hold at least 300 people.

To ease the residents’ worry on possible transmissions, he wittingly advised them not to be a “NIMBY” similar to individuals being referred to in the screenshots of a US-based article he attached in his tweet.

“Nauunawan natin ang pangamba ng mga nakatira malapit sa covid-related facilities. ngunit ligtas ang mga pasilidad na to. Kahit katabi pa mismo ng bahay nyo ang gusali. Hindi po tumatagos ng pader ang coronavirus,” Sotto said.

What is a NIMBY?

The article titled “The Nimbys of the Coronavirus Crisis” reports how residents of a neighborhood in New York City  successfully lobbied to stop the plans of building a coronavirus testing site despite the need for it over fears of disease transmission.

The word “nimby” as it turns out is an acronym for a phenomenon called “not in my backyard.”

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, this phenomenon signifies a person’s “opposition to the locating of something considered undesirable in one’s neighborhood.”

“In some circumstances, it connotes the unwillingness of individuals to accept the construction of large-scale projects by corporations or governmental entities nearby, which might affect their quality of life and the value of their property,” the online encyclopedia explained.

Aside from Pasig City, several other cities in Metro Manila and  provinces have converted existing establishments into quarantine centers for individuals classified as persons under investigation or persons under monitoring.

These include the Athlete’s Village in Tarlac, the Lindi Hotel in Baguio, the Sorsogon State College in Sorsogon and Makati Friendship Suites in Makati City.

The government also announced that the Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex will be converted as quarantine facilities for more than 900 patients.

The Philippine National Police also opened its own facility in its headquarters in Quezon City after several policemen tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism is still identifying hotel and similar establishments that will be used as quarantine facilities, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Scientific basis

Like Sotto’s remark on COVID-19 transmission via building walls, health experts have similarly said that there’s no proof yet that the new pathogen’s viral particles can be transmitted through building walls.

The World Health Organization earlier explained that the new coronavirus strain is respiratory and spreads primarily through droplets via coughing, sneezing, droplets of saliva or nasal discharge.

This is the main reason why social distancing and hand washing are still the best preventive measures against it.

“To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing,” WHO said.

Sotto summoned by NBI

Meanwhile, Sotto who has been receiving praises for his COVID-19 efforts is currently embattled after the National Bureau of Investigation on April 1 asked him to explain a possible violation of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469).

The possible violation is related to his previous move to allow tricycle drivers to operate despite the government’s mass transportation ban early March.

The mayor was also asked to respond to the NBI office on April 7 at 10 am.

One of the provisions of the Bayanihan Act is to ensure that local government units are complying with the guidelines of the enhanced community quarantine, which was declared last March  16.

The umbrella measure suspended all public transportation including domestic air and sea travel in Luzon until April 14.

During the first week of the quarantine, Sotto allowed tricycle drivers to service health workers and those exempted from the quarantine to move around the city.

The Bayanihan Act, which provisions Sotto might have violated, was only signed into law last March 24.

Sotto noted this time frame in his response and reiterated his stance that the local government complied with all the rules.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, uncle of Vico, and also among the senators who voted in favor of the Bayanihan Act, reacted to NBI’s move against his nephew saying violation of the new law “can’t be retroactive.”

“Laws are never retroactive if detrimental to any accused,” the Senate president also tweeted.