Drag race draws ire for gathering crowd amid rising Covid-19 cases

Screenshot from Anthony Tesoro's Facebook account
Screenshot from Anthony Tesoro's Facebook account

A DAVAO City-based medical doctor chided the staging of a drag racing event over the weekend, citing its ill-timing as the city's Covid-19 cases continue to increase.

Dr. Anthony Tesoro posted on Tuesday, October 20, a collage of photos in a car racing event dated Sunday, October 18.

Based on the photos, people can be seen gathering while watching the drag racing event.

Also attached in Tesoro's post is an online infographic of the Department of Health-Davao Region (DOH-Davao), showing the Covid-19 data of the region.

In his post, he questioned the staging of the event where a lot of people were seen watching.

"Question: 1. Is Davao City already Covid-free that events like this where people are expected to congregate are allowed? [sic]," Tesoro said in his Facebook post.

"2. Why impose on the 7 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew but allowing such an event to happen in the morning? Pang gabii lang ba diay ang Covid? (Does Covid-19 only surge during night time?)," Tesoro added.

He questioned the timing of the event as the city "is still struggling with the rising of Covid-19 cases."

"If we continue to give permits to activities like this, then don't expect our daily cases to improve [sic]," Tesoro said.

The doctor also urged the local government to be "consistent" in its implementations.

The post, which became viral, and received various comments, was taken down eventually.

In a phone interview, Tesoro said the photos were forwarded by his fellow doctor in a Viber group composed of medical doctors.

He said his fellow doctor was alarmed as he was able to pass by the area.

Tesoro, a volunteer doctor who once headed the 911 Telemedicine program of the City Government, expressed his dismay upon seeing the post as physical distancing was not properly observed.

He also saw a picture of a baby brought to the event.

While he said that the drag racing event is a non-contact sport, which is allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) omnibus guideline, he said the event was still risky considering it was a mass gathering event.

Tesoro said organizers could have pushed through with the event but not invited people, or better yet moved the event to a later date as the current Covid-19 situation is not suitable.

"Not at this time. Nagadaghan ang kaso sa Davao," he said.

The event, he said, defeats the purpose of the recently issued Executive Order 55, which reimposes the 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the city to mitigate the further spread of the virus.

"Dili siya maging consistent if a large crowd activity will be allowed in the morning, and you impose a curfew in the evening," the doctor said.

He said his post was not meant to discredit anyone, and that he only expressed his concern to the medical frontliners who continue to suffer with the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

"It's so premature to conduct this activity at this time. Maluoy sila sa mga frontliners. Syempre, kung musaka ang kaso, kami may musagubang," Tesoro said.

Organizers: 'Protocols were observed'

Davao Drag Racing Association President and event organizer Elben Pang, in a separate phone interview, denied Tesoro's claims that physical distancing and other health protocols were not properly observed.

Pang, who was also the emcee during the event, said he personally monitored the event wherein guests had properly observed the required distancing.

From time-to-time, he said the organizers deployed security marshals and reminded spectators to observe physical distancing.

Prior to the event, he said the City Government had personally reviewed their health and safety plan, and personally inspected the racing venues days before the actual event.

"Pila ni siya ka-meetingan among gibuhat sa Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) and sa LGU to ensure nga masunod ang mga health measures (We had meetings with PSSCC and the LGU to ensure health measures are followed)," Pang said.

He said health measures enforced include the mandatory wearing of face masks, hand washing stations, temperature checkups, and the required listing of guests and visitors.

He also said they laid down proposed security measures, also approved by the city.

Pang said the event had been long overdue, considering it was supposed to be held in March this year as part of their Araw ng Dabaw event, but was canceled when the City already imposed the community quarantine.

He admitted they intended the event to be as "silent" as possible to avoid attracting more people.

"Wala man mi nagpabaya. Kahibalo man mi sa current situation. Giplanuhan namo tanan, and aduna mi countermeasures, in coordination with the local government (We were not being irresponsible, we know about the current situation. We planned for everything and we also have countermeasures in place in coordination with the local government)," he said.

Meanwhile, he said they already expected criticisms, and that they will not make the issue bigger.

PSSCC Angel Sumagaysay also confirmed that the event was "well-coordinated" and that he personally inspected the venue.

During their inspection, Sumagaysay said physical distancing was properly observed and that a public address system is being played, reminding guests to observe physical distancing.


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