Duterte: No reason for Richard Gomez not to accept healthy returning Ormoc residents
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has insisted that Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez has no reason to deny entrance to returning residents who are healthy and free from COVID-19.
This statement from Duterte on Thursday came after Gomez lambasted government agencies for allegedly implementing the “Balik Probinsya” program without even following protocols placed to prevent local coronavirus transmissions.
The President said that while he has no personal issue with Gomez, the latter should follow rules especially those enshrined in the constitution.
“I do not have any quarrel with Richard Gomez, as he was the one who said that he is not going to accept anybody from entering or for that matter leaving the place. Okay lang ‘yan, it’s a part of maybe the vigilance that a person nurtures in his heart,” Duterte said in his briefing.
“But you know there are also constitutional issues that are involved, and those are sacred ones. And for those who are not really pronounced to be infected, positive, there’s no reason why he should not accept them especially those who are returning to their homes from doing work abroad,” he added.
Gomez last Monday cried foul over a supposed order to receive returning residents despite not having been tested for coronavirus infection.
According to the mayor, he received text messages from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) regional offices that three planes would be heading to Tacloban which should be received by Ormoc.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año clarified though that the residents Gomez was referring to were not part of the Balik Probinsya program but rather were returning overseas Filipino workers.
The Balik Probinsya was pushed by President Duterte’s long-time aide and now Senator Bong Go, to address the ongoing health crisis which has paralyzed most of Luzon especially Metro Manila.
However, the risks of such a program reared its ugly head early on, as two Balik Probinsya beneficiaries who returned to Leyte have tested positive for the latest coronavirus strain — making the returnee the first COVID-19 case in Baybay town.
Duterte reminded Gomez of the returning workers and OFWs’ constitutional right to travel and to return to their home, despite an ongoing public emergency.
“Kuwawa naman kasi, so ‘yong constitutional right, there’s no really a reason why you should not accept them with open arms. I think this has been understood by everybody,” he added.
As of now, health authorities said there are now 15,588 COVID-19 patients in the Philippines due to 539 new cases — the record-highest single day increase recorded since the coronavirus reached the country.
At least 921 of the patients have died while 3,598 have recovered.
Worldwide, there are now 5.705 million cases, with 355,934 people dead and 2.360 million patients-recoveries.
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