February 1, 2023

DOUBLE STANDARD AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

When photos of the mañanita of then National Capital Region Police chief, now Philippine National Police Chief Debold Sinas circulated on social media, there was public outrage on why ranking police officers violate the same health protocols they are bound to enforce.
Here at home, photos and videos of the birthday party on Jan. 17 of self-proclaimed “eventologist” Tim Yap at The Manor inside Camp John Hay showing the celebrator and other guests without a mask and closely socializing have stirred public discussions about the manner by which authorities implement health protocols. A snap photo of Mayor Benjamin Magalong with his wife, Arlene, and an actress with two female guests also without masks further sparked public outrage.
The mayor’s explanation that Yap and his guests have complied with the border requirements prior to entering Baguio and for choosing to celebrate his birthday in the city while promoting creative tourism are not enough to justify the breach of health protocols.
While some quarters appreciate Yap’s supposed efforts to help promote the city’s creative tourism, this does not excuse him or his guests from violating health protocols. Besides, true patrons of Baguio’s arts and crafts have always been embraced by the city through the years, as they help generate revenue for the community’s artists and artisans.
While it could be true that video clips and selected photos do not tell the entire account of what truly transpired, Baguio residents could not contain their disappointment on the double standards in the implementation of health protocols depending on one’s status in society. As some citizens put it, some of those in the event are perfect examples of privileged people who are able to get away from their lapses while the public in general are not spared.
Officials concerned should realize that Baguio residents, including people from other parts of the world, are not angry because they could not celebrate their birthday with a crowd. They are angry because Yap and his guests have disregarded minimum health protocols while ordinary people are accosted for protocol violations.
Records of the Public Information Office show that as of Jan. 26, 832 individuals were warned for not using their face shield while 589 were lectured for not wearing face mask and shield properly. Several establishments found violating the health protocols were either issued warnings or were closed for 15 days.
The public hopes that despite the mayor’s inclination to defend Yap’s group, the city investigating team and the fact-finding team of the Department of Tourism would come up with an objective report and give sanctions if merited.
City Hall should have learned from the Zamora fiasco where the chief executive was widely criticized for being light handed on a select group of people.
We also do not share the view that would-be political rivals of the mayor are behind the growing public outrage, as any breach in health protocols is a public health issue, not a political one.
We understand the public’s frustration over the incident but may we still choose to have a civil discussion and stick to the issue and not resort to personal attacks against those who are supposedly at fault.
Meantime, we remind anew the public to always adhere to minimum health protocols, as the Covid-19 virus does not discriminate anyone even assuming that there is truth to public perception that the implementation of the health protocols in this mountain resort is double standard.

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