By Dhel Nazario
A video footage of a Pasay City councilor drew flak on social media after he was seen cursing, when he stumbled upon the city’s session hall which has been turned into a rapid test center by health workers from the City Health office (CHO).
A five-minute video posted on Facebook by a certain Alexia Guevara showed City Councilor Moti Arceo who at the beginning of the video started swearing while walking just outside the session hall of the city.
The incident happened on May 19, Tuesday, at the fourth floor of the city hall. A memorandum was attached to the video posted on Facebook mentioning that there was a scheduled rapid testing for the skeletal workforce of the city hall employees that took place that day at the session hall.
The intended recipients of the memo, which came from the Human Resource Management and Development Office (HRMDO) of the city hall were department heads, chiefs and heads of offices and the employees. The mayor as well as the councilors were not included.
Arceo, in a phone interview with Manila Bulletin, mentioned that he did not receive the memo and only learned about the testing from a source that he did not divulge.
“Yung nagpost hindi siya taga-Pasay. Buti pa siya may kopya ng memo,” Arceo said.
(The one who posted [the memo] is not from Pasay, yet she has copy of the memo.)
During the interview, Arceo admitted that he did curse, but he did not curse directly at anyone and was just completely overwhelmed by what he saw.
“Nagmura ako, pero wala akong minura. Magkaiba yun,” he said.
(I did curse. But I did not curse at anyone. Those are different.)
Arceo confirmed that it was indeed him who was recording the video. At the beginning he can be heard asking the health workers: “Ganyan ba kaikli ang mga pag-iisip niyo?”
He asked the health workers in the video if what they did was well-thought of. He kept asking them several times if it was not dangerous then why were the health workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
He then went on by saying “Kung hindi delikado tanggalin niyo (If it [testing] is not dangerous, then take this off)” allegedly referring to the entrance of the session hall covered by plastic.
The councilor told the health workers that they disinfect the area everyday. At this point in the video he showed his face and relayed that their session hall was being used as a rapid testing center.
“Yung session hall namin ginawang rapid testing center,” he said.
(Our session hall was turned into a rapid testing center).
He said that the testing should not be conducted inside the city hall, even more inside the session hall.
“Diyan kami nagtratrabaho pag nagsesession kami, may taong bayan na nanonood, may mga empleyado kami dyan, dyan kami nagpupulong, nagmemeeting. Yung buong empleyado ng city hall nalagay sa panganib sa tingin ko,” Arceo said.
(That’s where we work, when we conduct our sessions citizens come there to witness it, and we have employees there, we also hold there our meetings. I think employees of the city hall were compromised by what happened.)
He said that the City Health Office, who is supposed to be leading in their fight against COVID-19 is this “reckless” and” careless.” He revealed that after the testing was done, the session hall was only disinfected on Saturday.
The councilor shared that during that day, there were employees whose offices were inside the session hall and were working while the tests were ongoing. They also went in there for work the following days before it was disinfected.
“Yung mga pinaggamitan nilang bulak may dugo-dugo pa, iniwan nila dun. Kinabukasan na nalinis…yung taga-linis namin dyan sa session hall.,” Arceo disclosed.
(Used cotton balls with traces of blood were left here and was only picked up the next day by the designated cleaner.)
After what he saw, Arceo said that he was able to talk with a representative of the health office. He also said that he texted and called the head of the CHO but did not get any response.
For her part, Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano has called for a conference with a city councilor and city hall officials to shed light on a video that’s being circulated on social media where public health workers are allegedly being harassed.
“I find it regrettable that the incident happened. But as mayor, it is my responsibility to ensure that we should focus on our real enemy which is COVID-19,” Calixto-Rubiano said in a statement released on Sunday.
According to the mayor, she has already conducted a series of dialogues and inquiries with the parties involved in the video to listen to their sides of the controversy. It is very possible that there has been a misunderstanding between them.
The mayor is convening a conference with all the parties involved as soon as possible.