Pasay councilor sorry for outburst directed at front-liners conducting COVID-19 tests
MANILA, Philippines — Pasay City Councilor Arnel Moti Arceo apologized on Sunday after he was caught on video swearing and shouting at frontliners who were testing City Hall employees for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on May 19.
Arceo told the Inquirer that he was just upset that he and the other councilors had not been informed that the rapid testing would be done at City Hall, potentially putting more people at risk.
“It is true that I cursed. But I just want to clarify that I did not curse anyone. This was an outburst of emotion. If my cursing was hard to listen to, that was my mistake. I shouted, yes, but what I felt because of what they were doing was a mix of shock, anger and fear,” he said.
In a video that went viral after it was posted on social media on Saturday night, the councilor from the second district could be seen shouting and swearing at health workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) suits who were attending to City Hall employees at the session hall.
“Who will not be shocked? When we came back to City Hall, I thought I was facing an astronaut. I thought they were going to take someone positive from the city council secretariat,” Arceo said.
He apologized to the front-liners but added that the testing should not have been done at City Hall since the city council still conducted weekly sessions there.
“You will put the lives of the employees at risk. They will go [home] to their families. It’s not just City Hall that is at risk here [but] the whole city,” he said.
“You are inviting possible carriers inside City Hall. Many people come [here]. They are wearing PPEs but the employees at the session hall do not wear any,” he pointed out.
Ironically, Arceo himself took the viral video but he said he did not know who uploaded it.
The incident prompted Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano to schedule a dialogue between him and officials from the city health office and City Hall.
“I find it regrettable that [this] happened. But as mayor, it is my responsibility to ensure that we should focus on our real enemy which is COVID-19,” Rubiano said.
The testing at the session hall starting on May 19 was announced the day before through a memorandum issued by lawyer Maverick Sevilla of the Pasay City human resource management and development office.
According to the memo, the testing will be done from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for employees from the city treasurer’s office, information and communications technology office, city assessor’s office, city registry office, people’s enforcement board, city legal office, city budget office, city urban development and housing office, and public information office.
“You should have put more thought into this. You should have thought about doing this beside City Hall, not inside, not at the session hall! Why don’t you do it in your offices? And then you ask me not to shout?” Arceo could be heard saying in the video.
He told the Inquirer that he had heard that a case would be filed against him, and claimed that he tried to talk to the city health officials but did not get a reply.
“I don’t have plans of prolonging the discussion over the issue,” he said, adding that he would also file a case against city health officials for negligence, if necessary.
Arceo is one of the signatories to City Ordinance No. 6100 series of 2020 which prohibits “any act of discrimination, harassment, violence, cyberbullying that causes stigma, shame, indignity, dishonor, humiliation or harm against confirmed COVID-19 infected persons, close contact, persons under investigation, persons under monitoring, health workers, hospital employees or front-liners.” INQ
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