AN OFFICIAL of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s public shaming of a netizen over a comment made during Garcia’s live press conference on the implementation of the general community quarantine (GCQ) in the Province.
"It is a cause of concern for CHR, especially that some personal information of the commenter were disclosed to the public, including her full name, barangay of residence, and relationship history among others. The Governor even made personal remarks on the physical appearance of the woman based on the photos posted on her Facebook account," lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said in a statement.
De Guia said Garcia's remarks made against netizen Maricar Caballes in an online video on the Province's official news portal, Sugbo News, is "alarming."
During a live press conference on May 18, 2020, Garcia lambasted Caballes for her criticisms on Garcia’s GCQ pronouncement and disclosed the netizen's complete name and address.
Garcia said she obtained Caballes' address through barangay health workers who reported to her that the latter had received assistance from the national government through the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program.
"We seek to remind public officials—elective or appointive—that they are bound by high standards of ethics in public service. They must perform their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, and respect and shall be accountable to the people they are serving," de Guia said.
Responding to the CHR’s reminder, Garcia, in a press conference on Friday, May 22, said like any other person, she is also hurt by vicious comments hurled against her on social media.
"If I call them out because I publicly shame them, am I the one at fault? I didn't start it; they did. Should I just let them be? Is the freedom of speech only for them? Have we, public officials, been dehumanized the moment we take our oath?" Garcia said, in a mix of Cebuano and English.
In her FB comment, Caballes questioned the implementation of the GCQ in the Province and remarked that corruption was going on in Cebu while the people were going hungry.
“Asta malasa sa GCQ wala nay second wave madawat. Wa ninyo huna-hunaa walay trabaho ang tao pila ka buwan unya asa man mi ug ipalit ug pagkaon, may man ug ig trabaho, naa dayon ang kwarta, mga buang man tingali mo. Nagpasikat lagi ang Cebu sa pwerteng kurakot, ang mga tawo gipang gutom way saktong ayuda. Naa nagtindahan sa bagsakan unsay ipalit sa mga tawo. Mga bogo jod uy grabi (Tough luck with the GCQ, we can no longer receive a second wave of aid. Didn’t you think that people haven’t worked for months? Where are we going to get money to buy food? Good if there’s going to be money right away when we find work. You are all probably crazy. Cebu is known to be very corrupt. People are hungry and there is not enough help. There are things sold in the markets. But what will we use to buy? You are all very dumb),” Caballes said in her comment.
"And if you think if they call us corrupt or "bogo" (dumb), are we not being persecuted? Whether you are a Filipino, whether a public servant, we are entitled to the same rights. This is just my way of expressing my grievances which I also present to the Cebuanos," Garcia said in response to the CHR. (ANV/JKV)