(July 02, 2020) – President Rodrigo Duterte’s official spokesman on Thursday insisted he did not violate quarantine protocols when he visited a leisure park last week outside the capital.
Harry Roque defended his trip to Ocean Adventure marine park at a time when government banned any leisure activity due to the coronavirus spreading in the country.
Roque said he was among people considered as an Authorized Person Outside Residence (APOR), adding he was in Zambales province when he visited his property in nearby Bataan province.
Both areas are under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
“First time kasi on the first day of MGCQ, tinanong ko kung bukas na sila, sabi ko ‘Why not?!’ Dahil malapit naman po lahat ‘yan sa aking pinuntahan. So everything in an afternoon,” Roque said in a virtual Laging Handa briefing.
But he drew criticism from the public when his photos at the marine park went viral on social media.
In the photo, he was seen wearing a rash guard while interacting with dolphins in the water at Ocean Park.
He was also pictured talking with two people without a face mask.
“Kung mayroon po akong nalabag sa social distancing, ang katabi ko naman po mga dolphins, ‘di naman po tao,” said Roque.
“Wala po akong nilabag na regulasyon bagamat I recognize po na mayroon siguro talagang mga iba diyan na na-offend doon sa mga nakita nilang mga larawan. At para doon sa mga na-offend ko, paumanhin po dahil tao lang po.”
The controversial photo surfaced two days after he drew flak and derision upon cheering that the Philippines “beat” the University of the Philippines prediction of 40,000 cases by the end of June.
Roque, who is also the spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), remained upbeat about government’s fight against the deadly virus.
“We maintain that we are winning the war against COVID-19,” he said.
But on June 30, the Department of Health (DOH) said there were actuslly 48,445 positive tests.
They were only able to report 36,438 cases on Tuesday due to delays in verification.
Roque pointed out the daily positivity rate was relatively low at 7.12 percent.
“Our goal is to bring down the positivity rate to three percent or even one percent,” said Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.
Roque said the next goal is to beat the next UP projection of 60,000 to 70,000 cases by the end of July, “Mga kababayan, wag tayo pumayag na 60, 70 thousand ang kaso ng COVID-19. Kaya po natin pabagalin ang proseso.”
Several netizens have also derided Roque, insisting that UP was not the enemy.
But the presidential spokesperson brushed off the criticism, mentioning that he studied and taught law in the University of the Philippines.
“Hindi ko kinoconsider na kalaban ang UP. UP naming mahal po yan.” (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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