Some past violations of the COVID-19 quarantine protocols were recalled after GMA broadcast journalist Howie Severino was briefly apprehended by barangay officers and the some members of the Quezon City police for momentarily removing his face mask to drink water after a bike ride.
Severino, a COVID-19 survivor, recounted on Facebook that he was biking on Wednesday morning with his friends in Quezon City when they made a short stop at a bike shop in Mother Ignacia.
The journalist bumped into a fellow cyclist, famed photojournalist Luis Liwanag, and said that they “bought drinks at the store next door.”
All of them were wearing the requisite face masks.
“We bought drinks at the store next door, and drank them after pulling down our masks below the mouth (because we have not learned to drink yet with masks on),” Severino said.
He added that they were staying outdoors “where the risk of infection is much lower than indoors and maintained at least four feet distance from each other.”
The health department requires people to be at least one meter apart from each other to practice physical distancing. It is nearly the length of a motorcycle.
“I had just finished my drink and returned the bottle to the store before I could pull my mask back up, when at least three vehicles of QC law enforcers arrived to tell me I was talking without my mask covering my mouth and had to be brought to Amoranto Stadium for a seminar,” Severino continued in his post.
The seminar was about “the proper use of face masks in public,” according to Liwanag.
Severino, being a COVID-19 survivor, volunteered to give a talk at the seminar but his request was denied. He was also allowed to go home after they heard his explanation.
To set some things straight, because those who briefly detained me during my bike ride have been getting bashed…
Tales of graver offenses
Severino’s case, meanwhile, prompted some members of the local online community to recall other quarantine protocol violations in the past which posed graver health risks yet failed to get the same attention from authorities.
Veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona compared his fate to that of Metro Manila’s top cop, Police Major General Debold Sinas, who still holds his position despite his quarantine violations involving a “mañanita” last May.
“A journalist who pulls down mask to drink water gets arrested. Debold Sinas, the Metro Manila police chief who dropped the mask to party when parties were banned, allowed alcohol during ban period, and glad-handled a mass of people who lined up at a buffet IS STILL police chief,” she tweeted.
“Journalist Howie Severino arrested after lowering mask temporarily to drink. While, Debold Sinas enjoying his mañanita like a debutant. May pabigay pa ng rose and inuman, despite of not having a social distancing and it’s restricted to have a mass gathering,” another online user tweeted, with a series of clown emojis.
Siñas was condemned for holding a birthday gathering despite the then-imposed enhanced community quarantine which strictly prohibited the convening of people as part of health and safety protocols for COVID-19.
Pictures of him and his subordinates surfaced online where some of them were seen crowding at a buffet table, a setting that experts have precisely demonstrated in an experiment to show how fast the novel coronavirus can spread.
They also failed to practice stringent physical distancing measures even though some were seen with face masks.
The incident landed on international news outlets but that didn’t stop Sinas from continuously pursuing his duties as the top cop of Metro Manila.
Last month, the Philippine National Police said that cases have already been filed against Sinas and the cops involved in the controversial gathering. There is also an “ongoing” probe about the incident.
Other Filipinos, meanwhile, recalled the case of Sen. Koko Pimentel who breached quarantine protocols when he accompanied his previously pregnant wife to a private hospital despite testing positive of COVID-19.
A Twitter user reshared a post about Severino’s case and added with an eyeroll emoji: “Si @SenKokoPimentel nga nakapag SNR at naglibot pa sa hospital walang ganyang naranasan.”
— John Clifford Sibayan (@JCSibayan23) July 8, 2020
Another Filipino defended Severino and said: “He lowered his mask to take a freaking drink! How about Koko Pimentel?! Was he apprehended or was taken into a seminar?! I don’t think so!”
The senator is reportedly given up to July 15 to answer the charges filed against him in violation of the now expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Makati Medical Center said that his visit had endangered the health workers, other medical personnel and patients especially since he was infected by the highly communicable disease at that time.