Madridejos welcomes DILG probe on crowd gathering
BANTAYAN ISLAND, Philippines — The local government of Madridejos town in northern Cebu welcomed the decision of the national government to conduct an investigation into the mass gathering during last November 27’s Suroy-Suroy Sugbo in Bantayan Island.
Mayor Salvador Dela Fuente, in a phone interview with reporters on Sunday, November 29, said they were willing to cooperate with the investigation by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“That’s the decision of the DILG. We respect that and we welcome their investigation,” said Dela Fuente in Cebuano.
The Madridejos-leg of Suroy-Suroy Sugbo in Bantayan Island drew flak online after a crowd gathered in Kota Park and social distancing protocols were neglected.
This prompted DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, on Sunday, to announce that their department would be creating a “fact-finding team” to investigate the incident.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who was invited as one of the event’s guests, also addressed the crowd in a speech.
While acknowledging that the audience seemed to forget social distancing measures, Roque apparently forgave them since they were wearing masks.
Roque, in a follow-up statement issued on November 28, echoed Dela Fuente’s reaction that they were surprised by the crowd which grew uncontrollable.
Dela Fuente also insisted that organizers and local law enforcers were overwhelmed when they tried to suppress the number of people who wanted to witness the event in Kota Park.
“I understand the concern coming from the public but I also cannot blame our constituents for their eagerness to witness events like Suroy-Suroy Sugbo,” he added.
Nevertheless, the mayor vowed that their local government would be implementing stricter measures in similar activities in the future such as requesting more police officers to man and patrol the venues.
“We really have to implement strict health protocols and ask our constituents for their cooperation next time,” said Dela Fuente.
Last November 27, the Capitol together with the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and local governments of Santa Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos kicked off the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo in Bantayan Island, a three-day event aimed at promoting the island as a tourist destination as well as flights bound here now that the Bantayan Island Airport had been upgraded from a community to a commercial one.
But during its stop in Madridejos, a fourth-class municipality composed of roughly 36,500 people, the audience within Kota Park was spotted not following social distancing as means to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Netizens then criticized government officials both from the national and local for the disregard of health protocols, particularly Roque for addressing the dense crowd without allegedly observing physical distancing.
DILG will also be investigating screenshots of alleged Instagram stories of Pacquaio’s wife Jinkee also went viral on social media showing the senator speaking to a crowd in Batangas that also did not observe physical distancing. / with reports from INQUIRER.net
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