Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson said the patronage culture enjoyed by some privileged members of society must stop as he welcomed the recent filing of charges against quarantine violator Gwyneth Chua, also known as “Poblacion Girl.”
Law enforcement authorities upon investigation found probable cause to indict Chua for defying Republic Act No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act,” which Lacson considered a “positive step.”
Meanwhile, aggressive mass testing, mass contact tracing and mass booster shots, vaccination of minors aged 5 to 11, and a tougher stance against violators are among the steps the government and the public should take in dealing with the Covid menace – including the latest surge of infections, Lacson said.
“Poblacion girl: while the filing of charges for violation of RA 11332 is one positive step, there is a second step that is equally important—make her ‘connections’ liable,” Lacson said over his personal Twitter account on Wednesday.
“NAGPABAYA O NAGPABAYAD (whether they became negligent or accepted a bribe) does not make much difference. The PALAKASAN (patronage) system must stop,” the presidential aspirant added in his tweet.
The Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group earlier filed charges against Chua, her parents and six other staff of the Berjaya Makati Hotel over the breach of mandatory quarantine protocols, citing one of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 11332.
Chua managed to sneak out of her hotel room, where she was in quarantine after arriving from the United States last December 22, and attended a party in Poblacion, Makati. She, fellow partygoers, and some employees of the bar reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had cited information indicating Chua bragged about her “connections” that allowed her to leave the hotel. The Department of Tourism has since suspended the Berjaya Makati Hotel following the incident.
Lacson, who himself is in home quarantine after being exposed to his son who tested positive, stressed that no one should be complacent until there are zero cases recorded.
“We can claim victory only when there are zero cases. As the latest surge of infections has shown, we cannot become complacent even when the number of cases goes down,” the Partido Reporma standard-bearer said.
He said that aside from the gentle reminder to his Twitter friends and followers—“Mask, Iwas, Hugas”—more aggressive measures are needed to match the aggressive spread of Covid.
“On top of that, national and local governments must embark on an aggressive mass testing, mass contact tracing, and mass booster shots. The process to vaccinate five- to 11-year-olds must be accelerated,” he noted.
“After two years’ experience under the pandemic, our authorities should know what to do by now: ensure the efficient rollout of vaccine and booster shots, and the proper distribution of ‘ayuda’ to families affected by this continuing threat to our health and economy,” he added.
On the other hand, Lacson said the Department of Tourism’s suspension and fining of a Makati hotel for its failure to stop returning Filipino Gwyneth Anne Chua from breaking quarantine rules to party—as well as the filing of charges against her and others involved in the incident – are a good start.
He welcomed the move of other camps to halt their political gatherings and public activities amid rising Covid infections in the country.
“I support the halting of ground activities like motorcades by the campaign teams of those running in the May 9 elections. Even before Omicron, Senate President Tito Sotto and I have put a premium on discipline in our hybrid online dialogues in various parts of the country),” Lacson said.
Partido Reporma has always prioritized public safety in its recent “Online Kumustahan” events and other indoor and outdoor mass gatherings.
Reporma has maintained a strict implementation of social distancing protocols, mask wearing, self-sanitation and frequent rapid antigen-testing.
“It bears repeating that we cannot afford to let the pandemic continue devastating not just our health but also our economy,” Lacson said.
“Now more than ever the government and the public need to work together to beat this COVID-19 menace. A proactive leadership with a data-driven approach, plus cooperation from the public, is the key,” he added.
In a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday, Lacson confirmed that he was a close contact of his eldest son and chief of staff, Ronald Jay, last Sunday. The younger Lacson got sick and immediately underwent an RT-PCR test, which yielded a positive result Monday night.
Lacson said their house helper and driver also got infected. The Partido Reporma chief did not leave their residence since yesterday while waiting for his own test results and immediately advised everyone he came in contact with to monitor themselves and be cautious.