Despite the “social distancing” mandate by the Department of Health’s (DOH) in connection to the declaration of “state of public health emergency” in the entire Philippines as response to COVID-19, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 12, 2020, Senator Bong Go attended a social gathering event on Saturday, March 14, to distribute aid to more than 2,000 fire victims in Butuan City. According to Rappler report on March 15, 2020, Senator Go “handed out cash assistance to fire victims in barangays Ong Yiu and San Ignacio”.
On his Facebook page, Senator Bong Go posted photos of the event on the same day while also explaining that it is an “evacuation center” that’s why people were already there and did not gather because of their visit. However, he also posted photos with other crew, including famous actors Victor Neri, Robin Padilla, and Phillip Salvador, wearing no protective gears and standing closed with each other, ignoring the “social distancing” directive by the DOH and the president. Consequently, these photos have caused several criticisms on social media.
He also explained on his post that he already tested negative from the COVID-19, together with President Duterte. However, he never mentioned if those actors, including other dozens of crew and government staff for the event which can also be seen on the photos standing and sitting closed to each other with no proper protective gears, have also done any test for the virus. Regarding those actors mentioned, as of now there’s no news report regarding their test, so probably, they have not undergone any testing.
The senator is not the only person who posted photos of the event. Interestingly, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga also posted 265 photos of this event on theirFacebook page as well. In relation to the concerns raised by netizens, DOH Sec. Francisco T. Duque III stated on their March 6 press release report, “We can still contain the spread of the virus in the country, which is why we are encouraging the public to practice proper handwashing, social distancing, and cough etiquette. We call on the public to be vigilant and continue doing their part in containing the disease”.
Meanwhile, the next day, the DOH press release report on the 6th case of the local transmission, Sec. Duque again persistently emphasized, “We are continuously reminding everyone to practice personal protective measures such as hand hygiene, social distancing, and proper cough etiquette. Avoid unnecessary travel and postpone mass gatherings, as well. It is our individual responsibility to protect ourselves and the people around us. Only through collective action in our communities will we be able to limit the spread of the virus.”
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- Featured image: Philippine Information Agency Caraga