Did Thailand-based media outlet take notice of gov’t COVID-19 health protocols as Roque claimed?

December 21, 2020 - 5:46 PM
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This July 14, 2020 photo shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during a press briefing. (Harry Roque/Twitter)

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that the Philippines’ health standards to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 was effective and noticed by “foreign media particularly a Thai-based outlet.”

Roque was referring to the tweet of Thai Enquirer, an online news publication based in Thailand, which used his gif as it reminded Thailand residents of the mandated COVID-19 health protocols amid the latest spike of cases in its country.

The gif showed Roque proactively speaking at the podium with the labels “Wear mask; wash hands; keep distance.”

The presidential spokesman thought that this gesture was a form of recognition overseas.

In a statement on Sunday evening, Roque reacted to being featured and said this “encouraging.”

“It is encouraging that foreign media, particularly Thai Enquirer, has taken notice of The Philippine government’s Minimum Public Health Standards Advocacy Campaign of wearing a face mask, washing of hands, and maintaining a physical distance, which is known locally as ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas.’ It likewise mentioned that people must ‘listen to government announcements and do not take unnecessary risks,'” he said.

The Palace official also asserted that this campaign “caught international attention” and that it is “effective” in helping the country overcome the health crisis.

“The fact that the Philippine government’s advocacy campaign has caught international attention underscores how effective our message is – which we articulate in every press briefing and which we prominently display on the podium — in conveying that we must adhere to such health standards aimed at saving lives and protecting the communities,” he said.

He then reiterated the protocols to wear face masks and shields, wash hands and observe physical distancing rules during the holidays.

What Thai Enquirer said

The Thai Enquirer’s main tweet last Saturday reminded its followers in Thailand to wash their hands, wear a mask and observe social distancing.

“Listen to government announcements and do not take unnecessary risks,” the tweet read.

Thailand’s government reported 382 new infections on Monday, December 21 which brought its total cases to 5,289. Of these, 4,053 were recoveries and 60 deaths.

When the tweet gained buzz among Filipinos online, the handlers of the Twitter account clarified in the comments section that they did not know who the person in the gif was in the first place.

“We have no idea who this person is,” they wrote.

In another reply, they stated: “We used the gif because he’s round and Asian!”

When a user asked how they found Roque’s gif, the tweet replied that they used the following keywords: “Virus. Warning. Asian. Fat.”

Screenshot by Interaksyon

A Filipino user later introduced and described Roque as “a guy with no principles, he’s an opportunist.”

The Thai Enquirer then quipped: “Sounds like a virus. Wash your hands, don’t get infected by Roque.”

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Before issuing a statement into the Thai Enquirer’s tweet, Roque took to Facebook and asked a copy of the feature.

“Sino ang may kopya ng balita sa thailand? #kalmaAkoLangTo,” he posted on Facebook.

Then, after his official response, the Palace official shared a social media card version reminding the public to follow the minimum health protocols.

“Paalala lamang sa lahat na ngayong kapaskuhan, dapat tayong magpatuloy na magsuot ng mga maskara sa mukha / kalasag sa mukha, hugasan ang ating mga kamay, at panatilihin ang isang pisikal na distansya upang magkaroon ng ligtas at malusog na 2021,” the presidential spokesman said.