No, we’re not comparing ourselves to healthcare frontliners – Cayetano

By: Neil Arwin Mercado - Inquirer.net | March 24,2020 - 10:17 AM

MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea  pose for a photo that drew flak on social media during Monday’s special session at the House of Representatives. Cayetano said they were not comparing themselves to heroic healthcare workers and were just out to stress to the public the importance of observing strict quarantine rules to combat the coronavirus disease 2019. The chamber tackled President Duterte’s call for wider presidential powers in leading government efforts to contain the viral illness. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano explained the story behind the photo opportunity during a special session of Congress that drew flak and the ire of netizens on social media amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Monday, Cayetano and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, as well as several members of the House of Representatives, posed for photo while holding a poster with the message: “Together with doctors and frontliners, we went to work for you, so please stay home for us.”

This, however, did not sit well with those on social media, who took note of the lawmakers comparing themselves to frontliners who are exposed on a daily basis to the risks of the viral illness.

But in a Facebook live session, Cayetano cleared the air and clarified that they were only intending to send a message to the public.

“No, we’re not comparing ourselves to the frontliners. Hats off kami, malayo (It’s not a similar comparison). Ang mga frontliners (Our frontliners), every single second they’re risking their lives. Kaya nga kami (That’s why), we are just extending the message, stay home,” Cayetano said.

“Kung meron pong symptoms (If you have symptoms), isolate yourselves. Kung positive at kailangan na nasa hospital, pumunta na sa ospital (If you are positive and you need to be in the hospitals, go to hospitals),” Cayetano said.

In his opening speech during the special session for COVID-19 response, Cayetano lamented that many Filipinos are not observing social distancing despite the enhanced community quarantine placed all over Luzon.

“Marami pa rin po sa ating kababayan ang hindi nagso-social distancing. Medyo parang piyesta pa sa kanilang lugar, nagiinuman sa tabi and they don’t see that we can become dangerous to each other,” Cayetano said.

(Many of our countrymen are still not observing social distancing. It seemed there are still fiestas in their communities, drinking on the side of a street, and they don’t see that each one is a possible threat.)

A report by the Associated Press defined “social distancing” as the process of limiting people to gather and spreading the virus—a move that is being practiced in Italy and Japan where there are also reported positive cases of the disease.


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