Former Quezon City Councilor and singer Anthony Castelo called out former actor and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez for refusing entry to returning overseas Filipino workers to their hometown in Ormoc.
“I believe it was poor judgment on the part of Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc City, Leyte to refuse entry to Overseas Filipino Workers returning to their hometown from abroad recently,” Castelo said.
Castelo said he agrees with President Duterte’s recent statement addressed to Gomez and other local officials, saying, “There’s really no reason why you should not accept them (OFWs) with open arms”.
Castelo thinks that the actor turned city Mayor could have been less “by-the-handbook” in making the decision.
“Yes, we are in a Covid-19 emergency and we can all relate to the Mayor’s predicament,” Castelo said. “But it is also an emergency situation when you have hundreds of OFWs already in the next town on their way home after having been stranded abroad for months,” said Castelo.
“The good Mayor could’ve had more flexibility during such an eventuality, because in the state we are in, nothing is really predictable—regardless if higher authorities had given you enough notice or not, one must address the pressing problem at hand,’’ he added.
Castelo believes that Mayor Gomez had other options he could have used. He could have placed the OFWs in a holding area for identification, and tested them all over again—considering they’ve already been cleared and deemed negative of the Covid-19 virus before being released in Manila.
Castelo also said that the Mayor could have had them all quarantined again, if necessary- but at least they would have already reached their final destination, and with their families close by. But certainly, Castelo said, it was not an option “to turn them away and be helplessly stranded again—in a foreign place in their own country—still away from their loved-ones,” he stressed.
Castelo, however, admits that he admires Mayor Gomez, a showbiz colleague, for his commitment to discipline, good governance and for his outstanding community service in his city, and that he hopes this experience would be a “lesson- well-learned” for all, including other local officials.
“I believe we can all learn a thing or two from the wisdom and advice of well-experienced former local officials, like that of former Mayor and now President, Rodrigo Duterte,” adding, “Thank God we have Duterte- a strong, decisive yet compassionate leader who has deep and undying love for our country and people in these most challenging times.” Castelo said.