A FACT-FINDING investigation will be launched on violations of quarantine protocols during recent events attended by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday, November 29, 2020.
"We will make sure na magkaroon ng fact-finding diyan at kung merong dapat managot ay titignan namin (We will make sure that a fact-finding investigation will be conducted to determine culpability),” Año said in a television interview.
Roque spoke before a large crowd during the opening of the Bantayan Island Airport and Suroy Suroy Sugbo on Bantayan Island in Cebu on Friday, November 27.
Photos that circulated online showed that the crowd did not observe physical distancing. Some people did not wear face masks.
Roque said he was merely invited to the event, which was organized by the Cebu Provincial Government. But he is open to any investigation, he added.
“The activity where I was seen speaking before a crowd was organized by the local government, which I had no control as a guest,” Roque said.
“I was later informed, that the local official/s mentioned in interview/s that they did not expect the huge turnout of people as well,” he added.
He said he reminded the people not to remove their masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Meanwhile, a photo uploaded by Pacquiao’s wife Jinky on Instagram showed a large crowd listening to the senator deliver a speech in Batangas.
In a statement issued by Pacquiao’s special assistant Jake Joson, the senator’s camp also welcomed any investigation on the matter. They noted that all those who attended the event were wearing face masks and face shields.
"We welcome any investigation related to claims that quarantine protocols were violated when we went to Batangas to distribute relief and early Christmas gifts for the people who have suffered so much during the Taal Volcano eruption and the series of typhoons that hit Luzon (recently). Before that, we also distributed relief and financial aid for the fire victims in Bacoor (Cavite) and flood victims in Rizal province and in Marikina City," he said.
"If and when there were some photos and videos showing what it seems to be violations of the quarantine protocols, I can assure you that these do not reflect the real situation on ground. We were all mindful of the protocols as we tried the best we can to reach out to all those who came and share the little blessing that we have," he added.
Año said both incidents will be investigated and those responsible for it will be held liable.
He urged other government officials to avoid holding events that draw big crowds and disregard basic health protocols.
"Nananawagan tayo sa lahat, including government officials, kung meron kayong activities at hindi niyo kayang ipatupad 'yung health standards particularly [social] distancing, stop it, huwag niyo nang ituloy 'yan. You cannot just say ‘sorry’. Mahirap 'yun," said Año.
(We call on everybody, including government officials: If you cannot enforce health standards, especially physical distancing, during your activities, stop it. Don’t push through with it. You cannot just say ‘sorry’.) (SunStar Philippines)