Pangasinan mayor draws flak over birthday ‘harana’
CALASIAO, PANGASINAN—Mayor Timoteo Villar III of Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan, came under fire on Thursday for allegedly violating quarantine protocols after videos that showed him shaking hands with guests during his birthday celebration on May 6 surfaced.
The video clips circulated online on the heels of the controversial birthday gathering of Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, which stirred outrage this week for reportedly violating rules on social distancing.
In one of the videos, Villar was heard telling his guests, “Patawag ’nyo si hepe, ipakulong lahat ng nagpunta dito (Call the chief [of police], send everyone here to jail).”
Villar’s son, Councilor Dickerson Villar, who uploaded the videos, dubbed “midnight harana (midnight serenade),” could also be heard saying, “O, tulog tayong lahat sa kulungan. Dami nating nilabag—curfew, social distancing (Everyone, we will end up spending the night in jail for breaking so many rules—the curfew and social distancing).”
Before blowing the candle on his cake, the mayor said he wished the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic would end soon and that “all of us are safe.”
‘Not a party’
But Villar said that what was recorded on the video uploaded on May 8 was not a party. He said he had inspected checkpoints and projects on that day when some people followed him home.
“Those who came to my house were all Apor (authorized persons outside of residence) and who were tired and perhaps just wanted to relax a little,” he told the Inquirer by telephone on Thursday.
Villar did not identify his guests but said they observed social distancing when they visited him.
“The town is COVID-19-free because we strictly follow and implement guidelines so why would we disregard them?” he said, adding that “maybe others are blowing up this issue because they are envious that we have no infections.”
As of Wednesday, 39 COVID-19 cases had been recorded in Pangasinan. Three patients were still confined at hospitals while 27 others had recovered. Nine patients had died.
Villar said he was ready to submit to an investigation and would answer all questions about the events featured in the videos.
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