Pasay councilor off the hook
MANILA, Philippines — No charges will be filed against the Pasay councilor who “cussed excessively” at medical front-liners who were testing city hall employees for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after both parties reached an amicable settlement with the help of Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano.
In a presser on Tuesday, Rubiano said the “misunderstanding” was resolved after City Councilor Arnel “Moti” Arceo personally apologized to the city’s health personnel.
He also promised to send an apology letter to the medical staffers as well as the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists, which earlier denounced his “blatant humiliation, maltreatment, harassment, discrimination and insult [of] healthcare professionals.”“Because the apology is accepted, and there are no more complainants, no charges will be filed [against Arceo],” Rubiano said.
In a viral video he himself took on May 19, Arceo swore and shouted at health workers who were conducting COVID-19 tests near the session hall at Pasay City Hall, saying they were exposing other people to the risk of being infected by the contagious disease. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, when sought for comment, said that he found the cussing “excessive” but added that it was up to Rubiano to sanction the councilor.
During a three-hour closed-door meeting on Monday, the health workers said they were emotionally and psychologically affected by the incident, leaving them traumatized.
Arceo, for his part, explained that “his outburst that day was because of shock and my fear of the virus and its transmission.”
According to Rubiano, the councilors, including Arceo, did not receive the memorandum about the scheduled testing to be done starting May 19 at city hall since it was addressed only to the skeleton staff and heads of the offices to be tested.
But based on an assessment done by local health authorities, “the front-liners observed protocol and conducted risk assessment,” Rubiano said. The usage of a portion of the session hall near the entrance to city hall was “correct” because it had proper ventilation.
Testing site moved
But “out of respect to the sentiments of the councilors,” Rubiano said, the testing site was moved to Cuneta Astrodome.
Rubiano added that she would submit the findings of her investigation to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Arceo could have face charges under City Ordinance No. 6100, series of 2020, or the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance on COVID-19 infected persons and front-liners, which he and eight other councilors approved in April.
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