Filipinos love all kinds of celebrations and this is apparent on how one would always greet someone a happy birthday even when that person is only an acquaintance. So for people, let alone almost the whole nation give someone negative reactions and backlash days after that person celebrated his birthday, this means that the matter at hand is of national importance.
Such is the case of Maj. Gen. Debold M. Sinas who celebrated his 55th birthday through a mañanita in the early morning of May 8, with at least 50 attendees while the entire Luzon was still under the enhanced community quarantine.
As this was a clear violation under the lockdown guidelines identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases particularly the prohibition on gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19, Debold’s birthday was a subject for criticisms on social media for a few days.
The police general later apologized but insisted that photos of the party circulating on social media were edited, although it was posted on the official Facebook page of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Public Information Office.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa even defended Sinas, saying that physical distancing protocols were observed at the party, although pictures show otherwise.
Sinas’ case isn’t an isolated one, as there have been various government officials who violated quarantine rules, but instead of facing raps, they were defended by those who are also holding a position in the government and were given an escape path so they could easily get away from their noncompliance.
There’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson who is yet to be reprimanded after hosting a gathering in Batangas where she visited OFWs quarantine in the said city.
But for ordinary citizens who allegedly violate quarantine rules, the choices are down to either death or humiliation.
Who would’ve forgotten the tragic ending that retired soldier Winston Ragos faced? Tagged by his fellow soldiers as a quarantine violator, Ragos was shot dead in a checkpoint in Metro Manila without even the chance to speak a word to explain himself.
Over the past few days, news about ordinary citizens being arrested and humiliated on national TV without a warrant just because they aired their sentiments against the government is also a common sight.
With everything that’s happening, to say that these are trying times seem to be an understatement. While the rest of the world battles an unseen enemy, it appears like the Philippine government is traversing a combat against its own citizens who need all the help they can get now more than ever.