Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to clarify its policy against public displays of affection (PDAs), which he said appears to be a “war on love”, and not against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Recto particularly referred to the announcement made by PNP’s spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana about the planned prohibition on PDA as a measure to curb the increasing cases of coronavirus infection in the country.
“On its face, his statement seems to be a police declaration of war on love, and not on COVID. If these are the new rules of romantic engagement during LDR—’Love in Duterte’s Rule’ — then I believe that the President would not agree to it,” the Senate leader said in a statement on March 10. “If all acts of public display of affection are prohibited — harmless kisses, holding hands, hugs — then the rules border on the absurd,” he added.
He questioned the PNP’s reason for discouraging PDA, noting that couples stay in the same households anyway.
“So a couple who shares a bed at night cannot kiss each other goodbye on the street when they go their separate ways to work and should just text each other kiss emojis?” Recto said.
“Or how about the wife at the back of a bike holding her husband tight for dear life, will her hug be prohibited, too?” “Ang bait naman ni COVID (How nice it is of COVID-19) that it doesn’t harm couples making out in private. This is a scientific eureka moment worthy of a Nobel Prize,” he said.
Recto told the PNP: “Communication is an important tool in fighting the pandemic. Words can move—and frighten—a nation. When you wield a loud microphone, don’t treat it like a police whistle you can blow anytime.”
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas on Wednesday explained that such prohibition was only a reinforcement of physical distancing protocols that the government implemented last year during the strict community quarantines.
Usana said the prohibition on PDA also covers families, friends and other groups of people in public places.
The PNP said they will only reprimand violators for now and that no arrests or formal sanctions will be imposed yet.