Photos of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in an ocean park in Zambales, which were posted on Facebook on Wednesday were deleted after earning criticisms online.
The photos showed Roque visiting the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic Bay and and taking a dip with its dolphins.
“Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque enjoys an encounter with the dolphins of Ocean Adventure. We thank him for visiting our facility, as we begin gradually reopening Ocean Adventure to our guest,” the caption of the now-deleted post read.
He, along with some of the personnel of the tourist spot, were also seen not wearing face masks outdoors. Wearing face masks is part of the minimum health protocols required by the Department of Health to help prevent COVID-19 transmissions.
Prior to the photos’ deletion, news outlets have reported about Roque’s trip and posted them on their social media accounts.
Filipino online users also managed to save these photos and shared them on Facebook and Twitter.
LOOK: Palace spokesman Harry Roque visits Ocean Adventure as they begin to gradually reopen amid the general community quarantine.
📷 Facebook/Ocean Adventure Subic Bay pic.twitter.com/Yn1xDpH2hH
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) July 1, 2020
When the photos of Roque on a vacation circulated online, he once again became the subject of criticisms and online humor among local social media users.
Some Filipinos likened Roque to a cartoon character called Peter Griffin from “Family Guy,” a long-running American animated series.
Others quipped that this could have been Roque’s way of celebrating the government’s success for supposedly winning against the University of the Philippines’ prediction in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases by month’s end.
The presidential spokesman previously asserted that the country “won” against UP’s prediction of 40,000 cases by the end of June.
Data from the health department and other third-party analysts, however, disproved this claim.
A Twitter user, meanwhile, shared a humorous edit of Roque’s photo with the dolphins and turned it into a meme.
charot 😬😬 pic.twitter.com/nawGRQjDv5
— kj (@kkkimpang) July 1, 2020
Some Facebook also expressed disappointment over such an activity which they perceived to be insensitive and sense of entitlement to the struggles of the public cope with the crisis.
Zambales is among the provinces and regions now placed under the modified general community quarantine, which is the most relaxed quarantine phase before the new normal.
July 1 is the first day of MGCQ in this area.
Under the MGCQ rules previously announced, all types of work in the private and public sectors are resumed at full capacity. Tourism is also already allowed.
Health protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing, however, are still strictly enforced.
On the other hand, the Inter-Agency task force for COVID-19’s omnibus guidelines dated June 3 states that “indoor and outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise such as but not limited to walking, jogging, running, biking, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton, equestrian, range shooting, and skateboarding are allowed” under general community quarantine.
Roque later explained that just made a visit to a property in Bataan and passed by the resort which he claimed he has not visited for a long time.
Bataan is also currently under MGCQ.
The spokesperson also considered himself as an “authorized person outside residence” or APOR, therefore justifies his travel activities.
Individuals classified under APOR are also known as front-liners who are required to work during the pandemic. These include health workers, security personnel, employees from the food, beverages and medical industries, and government officials from the executive branch.
In a Palace press briefing, Roque apologized to those who were offended by his leisure trip.
“Wala pong nalabag pero kung meron pong na-offend, paumanhin po. ‘Di po natin intensyon na tayo’y may ma-offend po,” Roque said.
“I can assure po dahil paulit-ulit naman nating sinasabi ang rules pero paumahin pa rin po kung hindi nagustuhan ang mga larawan,” he added.
He also denied the allegations that he held a party.
“Hindi po ako nag-party, nag-iisa po ako, ang kasama ko po apat na dolphins,” the Palace official said.
“Kung mayroon nalabag po ako sa social distancing, ang katabi ko naman po mga dolphins, hindi naman mga tao,” he added.
The management of the resort has not yet issued a statement regarding Roque’s trip.